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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Murphy to speak at Hillary Clinton event in Miami

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter

Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter

11

October

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will be among the opening speakers for Hillary Clinton's climate change rally with Al Gore this afternoon in Miami, Murphy's campaign spokesman confirmed.

The event will mark the first time the Jupiter congressman and the Democratic presidential nominee have appeared at the same event in more than a year.

Despite her frequent treks to Florida, Clinton has largely ignored Murphy during her campaign stops in the state -- mentioning him for the first time at her most recent Florida rally in Coral Springs two weeks ago. (However, she didn't acknowledge him or his Senate contest earlier that day while she campaigned in Murphy's own congressional district.)

The omissions of Murphy shout-outs by Clinton in recent weeks were noticeable, because Democrats have -- for more than 18 months -- touted Murphy as among their prized candidates who could help them win back control of the U.S. Senate, something that would be vital to a Clinton White House.

Clinton formally endorsed Murphy in early September shortly after the Herald/Times noted she wasn't acknowledging Murphy at her Florida campaign stops. Clinton usually praises local and state Democratic officials and top candidates during her rallies, particularly -- but not always -- when they're in the audience.

MORE: Clinton to trot out Gore, and all the memories he invokes

Murphy's campaign this fall cited scheduling conflicts as to why Murphy hadn't appeared with Clinton. For instance, he kept his commitment to a fundraiser in New York City instead of going to Clinton's campaign stop in his district on Sept. 30.

He wasn't at the Coral Springs event that day either, when Clinton said she hoped Democrats would "send some reinforcements" by electing Murphy to help Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in Washington, D.C.

"I think Florida deserves a full-time senator, don't you?" Clinton said to applause, while not-so-subtly referencing Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and his poor attendance record.

Murphy and Clinton have not been at the same event together since Oct. 2, 2015, when he attended a Clinton campaign event at Broward College.

Today's joint appearance comes at a time when Murphy -- still relatively unknown statewide, according to recent polls -- hasn't gained consistent ground in statewide polls this fall, has struggled with his fundraising against Rubio, and has lost crucial and lucrative financial support from national Democratic groups a month out from Election Day.

Both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- an early endorser of Murphy -- and the Senate Majority super PAC have scrapped millions of dollars in advertising support planned for Florida in favor of potentially more winnable Senate races elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Rubio has yet to campaign with Donald Trump, but unlike the Murphy-Clinton alliance, Rubio's allegiance to Trump has increasingly become a vulnerability for him -- something Murphy has pounced on.

MORE: Rubio shows ‘cowardice’ in ‘silently standing by’ Trump, candidate Murphy says

Since the so-called "Trump tape" was released Friday -- showing Trump making lewd comments about women and bragging about groping their genitals -- Rubio has fallen off the radar. He released a tweet admonishing Trump's comments late Friday, but he hasn't withdrawn his endorsement of the Republican presidential nominee as other top Republicans have.

Rubio's campaign team won't respond to questions about it and they haven't released any statements or announced any campaign events since before Friday (when Hurricane Matthew was simultaneously bombarding Florida's east coast).

Trump and Rubio will be in close proximity to one another on Thursday, though. Trump has a noon rally scheduled at the South Florida Fair Expo Center in West Palm Beach, while Rubio has a Middle East policy discussion scheduled that morning in nearby Boca Raton.

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 10:29am]

    

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