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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Liberal activists plan 'empty chair' town hall for Rubio in Tampa



Liberal activists in Tampa on Wednesday will hold an “empty chair” town hall on behalf of Sen. Marco Rubio, part of an ongoing campaign that borrows from tea party tactics.

“Join fellow Tampa Bay constituents as our invited (yet unconfirmed) guest Senator Marco Rubio hears and responds to constituent questions, concerns and issues brought forth in a format of an organized Q&A style evening,” reads a Facebook notice from Indivisible Tampa.

Rubio won’t be anywhere near Tampa, Miami or Washington. He’s in Europe this week.

The Republican has been the target of regular protests outside his Tampa office (and elsewhere around these state) and detractors say he’s not paying attention to Florida or being responsive to constituent concerns.

Rubio’s Tampa staff is meeting with a small group before Wednesday, according to a message one activist left for the Tampa Bay Times. But organizers say Rubio himself should be available.

A Rubio spokesman last week was dismissive of the tactics and said staff had met with “dozens of these liberal activists.”

"Their goal is to flood offices with calls and emails and then go to the press and claim they aren't getting a response," a statement read.

Rubio’s national rise came in 2010 — back when the tea party was flooding town hall meetings and staging protests.

More Rubio pushback:

“As part of the strategy of disruption outlined in their online activist manual, the organizers are deceiving people by falsely advertising this event, which is not connected to us in any way. The protesters – some of whom failed to show up for meetings they scheduled with our staff – continue to fundraise off of it even though we informed them days ago Senator Rubio will not be there. We have been fully accessible and responsive to constituents, and our staff has already met with dozens of these liberal activists at our offices across Florida. As their manual reveals, their goal is to stage a hostile atmosphere, record themselves booing no matter what is said, and refuse to give up the microphone. That is not a true or constructive dialogue.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 11:08am]


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