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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Alan Grayson: Carlos Beruff's remarks were 'racism' but Patrick Murphy 'hypocritical' for scolding him



Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson said today that Republican candidate Carlos Beruff's comments this week about wanting to ban Middle Easterners from entering the U.S. were "racism -- plain and simple."

But for Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy to criticize Beruff is "disingenuous and hypocritical," Grayson said.

The Orlando congressman points to what he called a "truly heartless vote" that Murphy cast last fall to block Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S. in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.

"The Syrian refugees are the people who suffer the most from the chaos in their country and that part of the world; they are the most in need," Grayson told the Herald/Times. "How could Patrick Murphy or anyone else justify keeping out the people who are most in need?"

Grayson, Beruff and Murphy are among a crop of seven contenders seeking to succeed Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. Grayson and Murphy will face off in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. Beruff has four main competitors in the GOP primary that same day.

Speaking to Broward County Republicans on Monday, Beruff said: "Our immigration department is broken. And I don't think it's safe to allow anybody from the Middle East into this country."

Beruff clarified with the Sun Sentinel that "Israel is an exception," but that the ban would apply to Christians and Muslims. He followed up with a statement Tuesday saying he stood by his remarks; he accused Democrats and the "liberal media" of sensationalizing his comments.

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, quickly pounced on Beruff's initial remarks on Tuesday, accusing Beruff of "extreme bigotry."

But Grayson argues that Murphy is trying to play both sides of the issue and ignore his recent vote.

In November, Murphy joined Republicans in passing a bill that called for a halt on accepting Syrian refugees unless more stringent national security measures were put in place. Murphy and Tallahassee Congresswoman Gwen Graham were the only two Florida Democrats to vote in favor of it. (It has not been considered in the Senate.)

At the time, Murphy explained the vote by saying in a statement: "With new security considerations following the tragic and cowardly attacks in Paris last week, we must ensure that we have the strongest safeguards to certify refugees are not a threat to homeland security. This bill ensures that our entire intelligence community is on the same page without turning our backs on those fleeing violence and terror."

On Wednesday, Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said it was "deeply disappointing that a day late, Alan Grayson has decided attack a fellow Democrat instead of condemning Carlos Beruff's offensive remarks."

Grayson lambasted Murphy in a campaign statement and then admonished Beruff when asked specifically by the Herald/Times about the Republican's comments.

"Whether racism or discrimination or bigotry, it’s purposeless except to carry out people’s own hatred of others," Grayson said. "This notion that we have to keep an entire class of 1 billion people out of the country on the theory that one or two or three of them might do some harm is bizarre. It’s not rational."

In response to Grayson's attack on Murphy, Karp said, "Alan Grayson is the only hypocrite here -- throwing mud and misrepresenting Patrick's voting record, while he is under ethics investigation for operating an offshore hedge fund from his congressional office."

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 2:40pm]


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