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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Murphy vows to make himself available to voters, even without debate



YBOR CITY — U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy defended his decision to cancel a debate in his bid for the Senate and said he still will put himself out for questioning through other campaign forums.

Asked for specifics during an appearance Thursday, Murphy mentioned only campaign events scheduled in the next few days — a newspaper editorial board meeting, a news conference on gun violence in Orlando and a fund-raising event in Tallahassee.

He did not answer directly when asked whether he will schedule public town halls.

"I've been traveling the state for over a year now, zig-zagging, doing dozens and dozens of events, some big, some small," Murphy said during an appearance at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus, where U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa endorsed him. "I'm going to continue to be out there."

Murphy, a congressman from Jupiter, stood by his decision to cancel a debate scheduled before the Aug. 30 primary with fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Murphy said allegations Grayson had abused his ex-wife should disqualify him from public service.

"The truth is I've been hearing from so many survivors, individuals and groups saying 'Patrick, you cannot give Congressman Grayson this platform to legitimize his campaign,'" Murphy said. "To continue letting him have a voice while so many people are suffering out there, I couldn't, in good conscience, do that."

There are three other candidates in the Democratic primary but they were not invited to the now-cancelled debate. That was the decision of the debate sponsor, WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando, and was based on their low polling numbers, Murphy said.

Murphy had rejected earlier calls from the three candidates for more debates before the primary.

"We agreed to a debate with Congressman Grayson 10 days ago, and the only thing that's changed from that point till now are allegations of 20 years of domestic violence," Murphy said.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 4, 2016 2:23pm]


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