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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio is 'most homophobic' senator, Patrick Murphy says



Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy says it's "appalling" that Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio could be using the Orlando shooting massacre to re-consider his decision to seek re-election this year, especially when Rubio is "the most homophobic senator" in the country, Murphy said.

Although he'd publicly said for months he wouldn't seek re-election, Rubio said on Monday -- the day after the shooting -- that he was "deeply impacted" by the tragedy and that it "gives me pause" to re-evaluate his political future. Then on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera -- a current Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Rubio's friend -- told Politico that he'd urged Rubio to run for re-election while the two were sitting in Rubio's pick-up truck on Sunday evening, hours after the shooting.

Rubio has said he would take this weekend to think about his options.

Murphy initially avoided a firm answer when asked Saturday whether Rubio was using the terrorist attack as an excuse to run for re-election but Murphy then grew more direct in his answer.

"That's up to the voters ... but I cannot tell you how many phone calls I've received just in the last 48 hours about how appalled people are, especially, especially my friends -- our friends -- in the LGBT community," Murphy said.

"Many of which are actually Republican, right now calling me and saying, 'this is atrocious, this is despicable' that a senator who is one of the most homophobic senators in this country, someone who voted to keep this terrorist gun loophole open, who has a 100 percent voting record with the NRA, I think -- and now all of a sudden is going to use this horrific mass shooting, this act of terrorism, this hate crime to decide to run for the U.S. Senate? "

When pressed for his personal opinion, Murphy said he "certainly" agreed with those callers' assessment that Rubio is the most homophobic senator.

"Look at his voting record," Murphy said. "But what's appalling is not that he's the most homophobic senator but that he's now using this tragedy, targeting the LGBT community ... as an excuse, an epiphany now, that he's going to run for the Senate."

Murphy added: "The voters spoke before with him and his primary here in this state. I'm looking forward and I'm excited if he chooses to get in to this race."

Spokesmen for Rubio did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about Murphy's remarks.

Murphy's comments came during a press conference that Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, held to unveil his policy platform for criminal justice reform. The event was during Florida Democrats' "Leadership Blue" gathering at The Diplomat in Hollywood, Fla.

When responding to the reporter's question about Rubio, both Murphy and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey -- who endorsed Murphy last year and attended the press conference -- had a little fun at Rubio's expense by referencing Rubio's poor attendance record in the Senate.

"Who's Marco?" Booker joked quietly but loud enough for a microphone to pick him up. The room erupted into laughter.

Murphy then made a jab referencing the "Marco Polo" swimming pool game.

"Marco?? Where's he at?" Murphy joked.

Murphy is running in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and Miami labor attorney Pam Keith.

[Last modified: Saturday, June 18, 2016 5:51pm]


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