With it looking ever-more likely that Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will change his mind and seek re-election, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says he's ready for the challenge -- and he's pre-emptively going on the offensive against his potential opponent.
Speaking to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday evening, Murphy said: "This isn't about Senator Rubio. It is about the people of Florida, about making sure they have someone who's going to fight for them, that's not going to miss a historic amount of votes in committees or vote against this terrorist loophole that I think is largely responsible for what just happened the other day."
"It sounds like if he reconsiders and decides to seek re-election, you're ready to battle?" Blitzer asked.
"You bet," replied Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter.
Murphy noted to Blitzer that he "announced against Senator Rubio a year ago, a year and a half ago when he was still in this race."
While it's true Rubio was still unofficially on track to seek re-election when Murphy declared his Senate candidacy on March 23, 2015, it was largely expected by that point that Rubio would dive into the presidential race -- leaving a rare open U.S. Senate seat for Florida.
By comparison, Democrat Pam Keith -- who was the first of the major party contenders to enter the 2016 U.S. Senate race -- declared her challenge to Rubio in mid-November 2014. The other Democratic primary contender, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, announced his campaign in early July 2015.
Grayson's campaign also spoke out Wednesday evening about the rumors circulating around Rubio. He, too, was on the attack.
"The establishment's push to get a feckless Marco Rubio into this race will merely serve up another NRA-backed Republican who's hostile to gay rights and wants Donald Trump to be president," Grayson campaign spokeswoman Brooke Hines said in a statement. "Trump's brand of bigotry, like Rubio's outdated politics, no longer fit in Florida."
Murphy, Grayson and Keith will face off in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.
Blitzer invited Murphy on CNN primarily to discuss local, state and federal authorities' ongoing investigation into the Orlando shooting. (More on that here.)
Photo credit: Walter Michot / Miami Herald