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Rubio, Murphy Face Off At Final Florida U.S. Senate Debate

Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy were quick to dig into each other’s resumes on stage at the second U.S. Senate debate on Wednesday night. 

A recent pollfrom Real Clear Politics says the race is close. Rubio has a 3.6 percentage point lead over Murphy, 47 to 43.4.

But the focus at the debate at Broward County’s main campus two weeks before the Nov. 8 election was personal attacks, not numbers. 

"If you voted as much as you lied, you might actually be a decent senator," Murphy said. He went on to attack what he said was Rubio’s spotty attendance record, a claim that has been rated mostly true by Politifact Florida.

Rubio was quick to say he was proud of his record. "I've actually gotten things done.”

He hammered the Senate hopeful for his alleged lack of accomplishments as a freshman U.S. representative. In an apparent attempt to bolster his claim that Murphy has embellished his resume, Rubio also pointed out that Murphy is a certified public accountant in Colorado, but has never practiced in Florida. 

“It would have been a lot easier for him to win if I hadn’t changed my mind [and decided to run],” Rubio said. 

Murphy also attacked Marco Rubio's continued support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. 

On policy, the candidates discussed a series of topics, from Social Security and Supreme Court candidates to U.S.-Cuba relations.


They fought each other on the Supreme Court -- Rubio arguing that he wants the next justice to understand the proper role of the court. 

Murphy said it was “disturbing” the Senate had not acted on appointing a new justice or held a hearing for President Obama’s judicial nominee Merrick Garland. 

When asked how each candidate would protect Social Security, both candidates outlined different plans for the future of the program that more than 20 percent of Floridians rely upon. 

Rubio said he did not want to change anything for those are currently receive benefits, nor make changes for those near retirement. He acknowledged something would need to change.

Murphy countered by saying that his opponent wants to privatize Social Security, a claim that Rubio denied. The democratic candidate acknowledged that the programs needed to be strengthened, but insisted that he would not raise the retirement age. 

For Esthefani Paez, a Murphy supporter from Fort Lauderdale, it didn't seem to matter what the candidates discussed: Wednesday's debate lacked excitement. 

“It was a little boring because for me it looked the same as the past debate,” she said. “I still support Patrick Murphy."

For other voters, like Lizandra Monzon, who supports Rubio, Cuba was the most important issue. She stood outside Broward College hours before the debate voicing her support for the incumbent.


“I think that Rubio’s stance on the immigration in Cuba would be beneficial to both Cuba and the United States,” said 21-year-old Monzon. “The diplomatic relations between Cuba should be more of a give and take, not a take, take, take." 

Rubio bashed Obama's move to restore relations with Cuba and called for stricter sanctions on the island.

“It is a crazy, broken deal that needs to be revisited because it is rewarding the Castro regime and asking nothing in return on human rights or on the dignity and freedom of the Cuban people," he said. 

While Murphy said he supports normalizing relations with Cuba as a means of helping Cuban citizens. 

"Let’s make sure we are providing more opportunity for those Cuban people," Murphy said. "Would we rather see our own cruise ships, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, there in Havana? Or would we rather see Russian spy ships there?” 

Rubio was skeptical.

“You think an invasion of cruise ships is going to bring democracy to Cuba? It is not,” he said. “The Cuban government is a dictatorship… They have taken not even a quarter-step towards democracy.” 

Katie Lepri Cohen is WLRN's engagement editor. Her work involves distributing and amplifying WLRN's journalism on social media, managing WLRN's social accounts, writing and editing newsletters, and leading audience-listening efforts. Reach out via email at klcohen@wlrnnews.org.
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