Patrick Murphy's emotional new ad uses Pulse shooting to hit Marco Rubio on gun control
Hours before Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio are set to face off in their first debate in Orlando, Murphy unveiled a new TV ad on Monday in which the mother of a Pulse nightclub shooting victim criticizes the Republican incumbent for "doing nothing" to improve federal gun laws after the June massacre.
Christine Leinonen lost her son, Christopher, in the tragedy. Her voice breaking, Leinonen begins the ad by explaining how her son was "shot nine times. He didn't have a chance."
"I cannot understand how Marco Rubio would go back to Washington D.C. and do nothing," says Leinonen, who was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention this summer. "I don’t think Patrick Murphy is afraid to take on the toughest problems, including gun violence, in this country."
Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter said in a campaign statement that after Pulse, "Senator Rubio never found the courage to stand with [Leinonen]."
"Marco Rubio puts the gun lobby before Floridians every time," Murphy said. "We have a responsibility to act and Floridians deserve a real leader in the U.S. Senate."
Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas disputed Murphy's and Leinonen's claims of the senator's inaction, saying "since the tragic terrorist attack in Orlando, Marco has worked to help survivors and prevent terrorists from purchasing firearms."
"Marco voted for efforts that would alert the FBI and delay the purchase of weapons for anyone currently on or previously on the terrorist watch list," Perez-Cubas said in a statement. "Ultimately, Marco believes we must refocus our efforts on combating terrorism, both at home and abroad, and addressing the mental health crisis in our country."
Murphy, a strong proponent of gun control, has spoken several times during his campaign about the need for gun reform, especially in the wake of the Orlando shooting.
Last week -- on the four-month anniversary of the shooting -- Murphy held a press conference in Orlando with gun-control advocates, including U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy. The Connecticut Democrat (no relation to Patrick Murphy) famously filibustered on the Senate floor for 15 hours in late June, as the Senate deliberated gun-control measures following the Pulse shooting.
Watch Murphy's new ad below:
*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.