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Beruff calls out Rubio over visits to Tampa Bay area

Marco Rubio has made only a handful of official visits to Tampa Bay in the 5½ years he has been Florida's junior senator.

Most of those stops were at the heavily secured MacDill Air Force Base, where the vast majority of the region's 2.7 million people couldn't visit without special clearance.

Only twice since 2011 — and not once since 2013 — has Rubio made a public appearance that wasn't a politically staged event or at MacDill.

Rubio's scarcity in Tampa Bay has become part of an attack line for Carlos Beruff, his Republican opponent in this year's U.S. Senate race.

"I would say the people on the west coast haven't seen their senator enough," Beruff said.

Beruff claims that Rubio's infrequent stopovers prove he has been derelict in his duties and that he has lost touch with those who elected him in 2010.

Beruff said Republicans in the Florida Panhandle and in southwest Florida haven't had access to Rubio, either.

"I've heard it plenty of times," Beruff said Thursday before boarding a flight to Flagler County for a campaign event.

Rubio's campaign scoffed at Beruff's charge.

"These are silly attacks that ignore Marco's record of fighting for Florida," said Rubio's spokeswoman, Olivia Perez-Cubas. "Marco is committed to continuing to serve the people of Florida, including his work to provide our veterans with the quality care they deserve."

To further rebut Beruff's critique, Rubio's Senate staff released a list of over a dozen events in the Tampa Bay area that Rubio has attended since the start of 2011.

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