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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Republicans pounce on President Obama's Miami fundraisers for DNC, Patrick Murphy

President Barack Obama arrives at Cecil Airport on Air Force One with Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, and Rep. Corrine Brown, Feb. 26, 2016, in Jacksonville.

Rick Wilson / AP

President Barack Obama arrives at Cecil Airport on Air Force One with Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, and Rep. Corrine Brown, Feb. 26, 2016, in Jacksonville.

National and state Republicans are casting President Barack Obama's political events in Miami today as the Democratic Party's figurehead intervening in a critical toss-up state.

Obama is in South Florida this evening for a couple Democratic fundraisers: one for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- the arm of the Democratic Party that's tasked with electing candidates to the U.S. Senate -- and another for the Democratic National Committee. (The DNC event was being billed as potentially Obama's last visit to Miami as president.)

Wadi Gaitan, spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, said in a statement that Obama was attempting "to calm the rising tide of Democratic disunity through speeches and fundraisers."

"Floridians continue to distrust the failed policies that the president and Hillary Clinton are promoting. Voters are ready for a new leader who will turn the page on the last eight years of this broken administration by fighting for real solutions for all Americans," Gaitan said -- without naming the GOP's presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee -- the GOP version of the DSCC -- said Obama was trying "to bail out Patrick Murphy" by fundraising for him in person.

Murphy is seen as a front-runner in the competitive race to replace Marco Rubio -- a contest that could determine which party has control of the Senate next year. But Murphy had a rocky month in May, largely in part because of reports by the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times that highlighted inconsistencies in the Democratic candidate's résumé.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Murphy in March -- an achievement Murphy proudly touts -- and since then, Biden has campaigned and fund-raised for Murphy twice, first in Miami and then in Orlando last month.

So it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that Obama might campaign for him, too, at some point.

The NRSC said Murphy "is not only watching the bottom fall out of his campaign, but is struggling to gain oxygen in a brutal primary fight against liberal hero Alan Grayson." (Murphy, Grayson and Miami labor attorney Pam Keith are competing in the Aug. 30 primary.)

"With Murphy in a tailspin, it’s hardly a surprise that D.C. Democrats are pulling out all the stops to bail out their chosen candidate," the NRSC said in a statement this morning.

Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp told the Herald/Times that "Republicans keep cheer-leading for ethically challenged hedge fund manager Alan Grayson to win the Democratic primary." 

"Meanwhile, Patrick is proud to be endorsed and supported by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and over a hundred other Democratic leaders. That tells Florida Democrats all they need to know," Karp said in a campaign statement.

Some Republicans have, indeed, expressed a desire for Grayson to win the primary -- but that's because it would give their GOP candidate a stronger chance to win the general election (and hold on to the seat for Republicans). Polls of the U.S. Senate race so far have, in general, shown both Murphy and Grayson leading over the five Republican contenders, but with Grayson doing so by a slimmer margin than Murphy.

The five Republicans running in that party primary are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Indian Shores, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox and Manatee County home-builder Carlos Beruff.

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m.

Lopez-Cantera's campaign also chimed in about Obama's event for Murphy with a statement this morning, saying in part: "Murphy is bringing in America's most divisive president to fundraise for him today to further try to prop up his flailing Senate bid while he continues to stumble."

[Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2016 3:41pm]

    

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