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Trump a Focal Point of Rubio-Murphy FL US Senate Debate

Monday, Florida U.S. Senate candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) faced off in the only debate between the two at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Rather than a debate that was solely policy specific to the state of Florida, both candidates were asked to respond to questions about the top of November 8 national ballot — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Repeatedly, the incumbent Rubio was expected to answer for Trump’s controversies, both from the debate moderators and Murphy himself.

“There have been 16 U.S. Senators who have had the courage and internal fortitude to not only disavow Donald Trump, but to dis-endorse him,” Murphy charged. “And you’ve doubled down on your endorsement of him.”

Rubio kept some distance between he and Trump, arguing neither were is first choices of presidential candidates. But throughout the debate, he reminded the audience that he had opposed Trump and argued there was a connection between Trump and Murphy, whose father’s contracting company had done work for Trump.

“There is only one person on this stage tonight who has voted against Donald Trump and that was me,” Rubio said. “And by the way, there’s only one person on this stage tonight whose family made millions in partnership with Donald Trump, and that’s you.”

Rubio touted his willingness to oppose not only Clinton, but Trump on various occasions, while emphasizing Murphy’s reluctance to criticize his party’s nominee Clinton.

Other highlights of the debate included responses to gun control in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando earlier this year, questions about Murphy’s claim of being a CPA and exaggerating his college education achievements, abortion and the issue of global warming as it pertains to Florida’s coastline.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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