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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio pressed to shun Trump by vet mother



A group of veterans protested at Sen. Marco Rubio's Tampa campaign office Thursday, demanding that he withdraw his support of Donald Trump following the Republican presidential candidate's remarks earlier this month about the parents of fallen soldier Humayun Khan.

"The leaders within his party cannot support that kind of person for commander-in-chief," said Dessia Laxton-Reinke of Tampa. "He does not respect the sacrifices of American military families. He does not espouse the values that we defend."

Thursday afternoon, she and three others delivered signatures from a petition on liberal petition website requesting Republican leaders distance themselves from their party's nominee to Rubio's Tampa office on West Kennedy Boulevard.

More than 110,000 people have signed the petition, including 6,000 Floridians."Donald Trump's attacks on veterans and Gold Star families cannot go unchallenged," says the petition, which were delivered to Rubio's staff on a flash drive. "Republican leaders must immediately revoke their endorsement of Trump's campaign and declare him unfit to be commander in chief."

Rubio’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

He is seeking reelection to a second term in the U.S. Senate and has been challenged in the Aug. 30 Republican primary by Carlos Beruff, a millionaire developer in Manatee County who has fully embraced Trump.

In addition to concerns about Trump, Laxton-Reinke said she does not believe Rubio has a very strong record with veterans.

“Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much of a record. He hasn’t voted on much of the key issues one way or the other,” said Laxton-Reinke, who is not a registered Republican but said she would like to give Rubio a chance to earn her vote.

“Because I am generally voting Democrat doesn’t mean I won’t change my vote if my senator starts representing me.”

A retired sergeant first class in the Army, her daughter served in Afghanistan and son is in boot camp for the Coast Guard. 

MoveOn volunteers have brought petitions to other Republican leaders, including Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Ali Samiian of Jacksonville, who came to Tampa to help deliver signatures, said he left the Republican Party in 2010, the year Rubio was elected, when he felt it had left him behind. To Samiian, also a veteran, Trump is the embodiment of a shift in the party.

“During the primary, Sen. Rubio was the strongest voice against Donald Trump,” he said. “And now he is falling in line with everybody else, and I think that’s terrible.”

[Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2016 6:25pm]


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