But, as you might expect, the issue that hit one of the first fights between the two was abortion, a topic Democrats highlighted following the Supreme Court ruling this year. to repeal the abortion protections codified in Roe vs. Wade.
“Senator, how gullible do you think Florida voters are? Demings asked, after Rubio accused her of supporting abortion until “the moment of life.”
Rubio pushed back against Demings’ accusation that he does not support any exemptions to abortion laws, raising his co-sponsorship of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (RS.C) federal proposal to ban abortions after 15 weeks, but includes exceptions for victims who become pregnant through rape or incest.
“The abortion extremist in this campaign is Congresswoman Demings. It does not support any restrictions, any limitations of any kind,” Rubio said. “She supports taxpayer-funded abortion…until the moment of birth.”
Florida’s Rubio-Demings Senate race appeared early on as if it could be one of the most important contests to determine control of the upper house. But just weeks before the November election, he trumped competitive senatorial contests in Pennsylvania and Georgia and failed to receive top spot even in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis’ re-election bid secured much more. Warning.
Demings, a 65-year-old black former Orlando police chief who was once considered President Joe Biden’s running mate, is seen as a rising star in Florida and in national Democratic circles. While she raised huge sums of money for her campaign, national groups all but abandoned her. The race has already passed the $100 million mark.
Rubio, 51, a two-term senator who ran for president in 2016, has consistently edged Demings by about 5 points in a once-perennial swing state that now leans Republican.
During the hour-long debate, the moderator also asked the candidates about climate change as the state continues to recover from Hurricane Ian, a near-Category 5 storm that decimated much of the south. -west Florida in late September, killing at least 119 people and racking up an expected more than $50 billion in insured losses — an amount that would make it the costliest storm in state history.
“We have to take climate change seriously, climate change is real,” Demings said. “If we do nothing, we will pay a terrible price.”
She added that enough resources to “adequately respond” must be provided to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while Rubio said FEMA reimbursements to local governments devastated by natural disasters like hurricanes must be dispersed more quickly.
“What’s happening for a lot of these cities and counties is they have to spend a lot of money up front, money out of their budget,” he said.
The pair also argued over immigration, an issue that came to the fore in Florida after DeSantis ferried nearly 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in September and the immigration dilemma at the border south continues to grow. Rubio claimed Demings was disrespecting U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, a comment that sparked an immediate reaction from Demings, who accused the Republican of saying “anything to win.”
“We are a nation of laws. I applied them for over 20 years,” Demings said. “We need to make sure the men and women on the border have the resources they need. I’m a fan of ground boots.
Rubio, however, said the situation on the border is simply not sustainable.
“No country in the world can tolerate, allow or allow 5,000 people to arrive at the border every day and say the magic word and get asylum,” Rubio said.
Demings is considered by Florida Democrats to be their strongest 2022 midterm candidate. There was initially an internal tussle between some Democrats who wanted her to run against DeSantis for governor. . But after some key Democrats pushed her to run for the Senate, including DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, she decided to try to prevent Rubio from winning a third term in the Senate.
Demings, who was responsible for impeachment from the House during the impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump, has raised $65 million even though it has been largely dropped by national groups more eager to spend to protect the outgoing senator. Raphael Warnock from Georgia, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, for example, did not help Demings financially at all. Bill Nelson. Demings has brought in huge sums in small dollar donations, raising nearly $8 million in August alone through ActBlue, the Democrat’s largest dollar fundraising platform. It was the biggest loot of any Democratic candidate nationally that month.
Rubio has raised nearly $45 million and has a cash advantage of about $3 million over Demings, whose campaign spent nearly $60 million compared to Rubio’s $35 million.
Although the issue of crime was not directly addressed during Tuesday’s debate, the state’s multiple mass shootings, including a 2016 shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and the 2018 Parkland shooting that killed 17, were a point of contention.
“How long are you going to watch people get shot in freshman grade, fourth grade, high school, college church synagogue, a grocery store, a movie theater, a mall, and a nightclub and do nothing?” Demings asked.
Rubio countered that he supports ‘red flag’ laws like the one passed in Florida after the Parkland shooting that created a legal process to temporarily ban people who harm themselves or others from owning firearms. . Some conservatives, including DeSantis, have said they do not support the Florida law because of 2nd Amendment concerns.
They were also asked if they would accept the 2022 election result, a question that became commonplace for Republicans after former President Donald Trump refused to admit losing the 2020 election to Biden.
Rubio said he has “never denied an election” and will not do so this year because he believes in Florida election laws crafted by the state’s Republican-led legislature.
He decried what he called a “federal takeover of our electoral system,” which he says is what Democrats seek.
“That’s nonsense,” Demings quickly retorted.