September 22, 2016

Rubio accepts more U.S. Senate debate invitations, as Murphy quietly declines some

Rubio murphy

With Democrat Patrick Murphy quietly declining debates proposed by two of Florida’s largest newspapers and Republican incumbent Marco Rubio adding two other debates to his list of acceptable possibilities, Florida’s top U.S. Senate candidates are no closer to mutually agreeing to more debates before Election Day.

Murphy and Rubio have so far committed to only two events together: a debate on Oct. 17 in Orlando and another in Davie on Oct. 26.

Both campaigns say publicly that they’re open to potential compromise, but the odds of that being anything more than political posturing are slim. Neither Rubio nor Murphy is giving an inch, but each continues to accuse the other of ducking ample chances to debate.

Rubio has accepted at least eight invitations to debate Murphy. He added two this week: one from Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace and another from the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and WJXT Channel 4.

Neither of those events have confirmed dates — a detail that would require negotiations with Murphy’s campaign, which hasn’t come to the table. It’s unlikely Murphy would accept the Fox News debate, though, because the cable news channel caters to a conservative audience.

Meanwhile, Murphy is holding steadfast to his commitment of three debates and one candidate forum, which he announced last week. Rubio seems equally unwilling to hash out details over one of those debates and the forum, citing concerns of bias in Murphy’s favor.

“[Rubio’s] ask for six debates was clearly disingenuous since he is now afraid to even do four,” Murphy spokesman Joshua Karp said. “Marco Rubio is only out for himself, using a political strategy to serve his campaign instead of the voters.”

Yet Murphy is employing campaign strategy over debates, too.

Karp said early Tuesday that Murphy hasn’t “made any other announcements or decisions regarding debates,” but the Jupiter congressman’s campaign quietly has.

Read more here.

Photo credit: AP / The Palm Beach Post

September 21, 2016

Fox News wants to host a Florida U.S. Senate debate


Fox News Channel wants to host a televised U.S. Senate debate between Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy -- a recognition of how high-profile Florida's contest remains.

A date for the potential debate, which would be moderated by anchor Chris Wallace, hasn't been determined. (Wallace is also hosting the third and final presidential debate on Oct. 19.)

Rubio's campaign accepted the invitation, but it's unlikely Murphy's will. Fox News is known for catering to a conservative audience, and Murphy's campaign, meanwhile, is holding steadfast to its list of three debates and a candidate forum that the Jupiter congressman has agreed to attend.

Murphy and Rubio have mutually agreed to only two debates so far, although Rubio is pushing for six. Their campaigns continue to criticize each other for avoiding more chances to debate. 

Also this week, though, Rubio's campaign agreed to a debate proposed by Jacksonville University's Public Policy Institute and WJXT Channel 4 in Jacksonville -- bringing his total of accepted events to eight.

The Institute suggested Oct. 18 for the event, but Rubio's campaign didn't commit to a date. Murphy's campaign hasn't responded to the invitation, institute director Rick Mullaney said.

"We are hopeful the Murphy campaign will also commit to the debate and we are looking forward to hearing back from them," Mullaney said.

September 20, 2016

Florida GOP mails tailored campaign fliers for Rubio



In English, Marco Rubio fought against Common Core and for lower taxes. In Spanish, he protected Social Security and Medicare.

These are the messages the Republican Party of Florida wants voters to hear ahead of the Nov. 8 election in which Rubio faces a challenge from Democrat Patrick Murphy.

The party has been mailing fliers to South Florida voters, tailoring them to their language, age and ethnicity.


New Murphy ad calls Rubio 'reckless on choice'



Hot off announcing an endorsement from Planned Parenthood earlier today, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is launching a new TV ad this afternoon that highlights his and Marco Rubio's contrasting viewpoints on abortion.

Murphy's ad slams the incumbent Republican U.S. senator for being "reckless on choice."

The 30-second spot highlights Murphy's new endorsement from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and mentions he is "100 percent pro-choice," while Rubio specifically opposes exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape, incest or for pregnant women infected with the Zika virus.

Murphy's campaign says the ad will run statewide as part of a "seven-figure" buy.

"Marco Rubio is reckless on a woman's right to choose, radical in his attacks on women’s health funding, and irresponsible in his anti-woman rhetoric," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "Florida women deserve a senator who will stand up for their right to make their down health care decisions."

In response to Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Murphy today, Rubio's campaign said in an earlier statement that Murphy was "leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up," because his campaign "is floundering."

As for Murphy's new ad, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said, "Patrick Murphy is distorting Marco's record like he distorted his own resume."

"Not only does Murphy support using taxpayer money to fund abortions, he also supports late-term abortions. Murphy's extreme positions on abortion put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians," Perez-Cubas said.

Here's Murphy's new ad:

Image credit: Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign / YouTube

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Rubio to join Pence at GOP dinner in Tampa


The Republican Party of Florida announced Tuesday that Marco Rubio will speak at a dinner next month in Tampa. Rubio is the second big name on the program, after vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.

RPOF's "victory dinner" will take place Oct. 15.

Rubio, who is running for reelection to the U.S. Senate, has not campaigned with Pence or Donald Trump.

Patrick Murphy attacks Marco Rubio in announcing Planned Parenthood's support

Murphy primary nite 3 - richard graulich pbp


Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has the official support of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and he's using that backing to renew attacks on Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio over his stance on abortion and the Zika virus.

The inclusion of Zika funding for Planned Parenthood's affiliates in Puerto Rico has been a partisan sticking point that's prevented Congress from passing a $1.9 billion funding package that President Obama requested months ago.

It's not unexpected that Planned Parenthood's political arm chose to endorse Murphy over Rubio in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race. Rubio is pro-life, while Murphy advocates for women's choice on abortion.

Murphy said he was "incredibly humbled" by the endorsement, announced Tuesday.

"This is an organization that provides vital health care to millions of women across this country," Murphy said in a campaign statement. "While Marco Rubio opposes a woman’s right to choose, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and has exploited the Zika virus to attack women’s health, I will be a senator who stands with Planned Parenthood to fight for Florida families."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards also criticized Rubio while praising Murphy.

"Murphy has been a fighter for Florida women, pushing for smart policies to ensure access to affordable birth control and safe, legal abortion," Richards said in a statement provided by Murphy's campaign. "Patrick sees the importance of access to reproductive health providers, like Planned Parenthood, to keep Florida women healthy. Rubio’s multiple attacks aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, cutting health care access in Florida, forcing women to pay more for birth control and eliminating access to safe, legal abortion, would all have devastating effects on Florida women and families."

In response to the criticism from Murphy and Planned Parenthood officials, Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said: "Patrick Murphy's campaign is floundering, so he's leaning on liberal interest groups to prop him up."

"Voters have a clear choice between re-electing a senator with a strong record of fighting for them, or Patrick Murphy, who has proven untrustworthy and ineffective," Perez-Cubas added.

Planned Parenthood's is one of several endorsements Murphy has announced since the Aug. 30 primary election. He's continuing a strategy he employed during the primary, in which he touted endorsements from a wide array of Democratic establishment supporters to propel his campaign against his party competitors. It's unclear whether that's having a similar impact during the general election contest against Rubio.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/ The Palm Beach Post

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

September 19, 2016

In Tampa, Patrick Murphy talks Marco Rubio, immigration reform

Via @adawsonwrites

He didn't get a chance to eat the Cuban sandwich and plantain chips laid at his table Monday at Arco Iris Restaurant in West Tampa, but U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy left the small cafe with support from a host of political activists.

Much of Murphy's brief stop with state Rep. Janet Cruz, who will be the House Democratic leader after the Nov. 8 election, was spent blasting his opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on everything from Zika funding to immigration and health care reform laws.

"Guess what, it takes an Irishman to speak on behalf of the Latinos on immigration. It takes an Irishman to protect the rights of families and say, 'I'll work on a path to citizenship,' " Cruz said of Murphy as he settled in at a long table of supporters. "It's a Latino that we have in the Senate that is speaking out against our own people."

Immigration reform is key to strengthening the economy, said Murphy, a South Florida congressman. Borders should be secured and laws enforced, he said, but with a clear pathway to citizenship so kids aren't "graduating from school and getting kicked out the next day."

More here.

AFL-CIO drops new batch of anti-Rubio mailers


The AFL-CIO labor union said Monday it's sent 60,000 voters a new batch of mailers against the reelection of Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The pieces highlight Rubio's support for the Trans Pacific Partnership and for other positions the union considers anti-labor.

The union backs Rubio's Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.


PolitiFact: Ad attacking Patrick Murphy misleads about Obamacare


Florida’s closely watched U.S. Senate race pits incumbent Republican Marco Rubio against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. Recently, Rubio got some help from the free-market group Americans for Prosperity, which created an ad attacking Murphy as "Pay-More Patrick."

One of the claims in the ad was an attack on Murphy’s support for the Affordable Care Act, a law sometimes called Obamacare after the president who signed it into law.

In the ad, a narrator says, "Patrick Murphy says he wants to serve in the U.S. Senate, but who does he really want to serve? As a member of Congress, ‘Pay-More’ Patrick has voted for big payouts to special interests. Our health care premiums are going up, and 300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance. And yet, ‘Pay-More’ Patrick voted not once, not twice, but nine times for Obamacare."

Here, we’ll check the assertion that "300,000 Floridians have lost their health insurance" as a result of Obamacare.

Keep reading Louis Jacobson's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida and read our fact-check of a similar claim by Rubio in 2013. 

NYT/Siena poll: Clinton 41%, Trump 40% in Florida


The Florida presidential race remains too close to call 50 days before the election, according to a new Siena College poll for the New York Times Upshot.

Hillary Clinton is statistically tied with Donald Trump 41-40 percent in a head-to-head match-up, according to the poll. They're actually tied 43-43 percent in a four-way race with Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who drew 9 percent and 2 percent support, respectively.

The poll found Trump's extraordinary support among white voters to be keeping him afloat in the nation's largest swing state. They prefer Trump to Clinton by 51-30 percent.

In the U.S. Senate race, the poll found Marco Rubio ahead of Patrick Murphy by 48-42 percent.

Because Siena polled likely voters based on data from Florida's voter file, the poll may be undercounting young voters who have yet to register and tend to lean Democratic. The poll's sample size of Hispanics might also be too small to accurately measure the state's Latino electorate; to do so, Florida pollsters often prefer to poll Hispanics only, or to oversample the demographic in their surveys.