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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio accepts more U.S. Senate debate invitations, as Murphy quietly declines some

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, left, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy

AP / The Palm Beach Post

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, left, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy



With Democrat Patrick Murphy quietly declining debates proposed by two of Florida’s largest newspapers and Republican incumbent Marco Rubio adding two other debates to his list of acceptable possibilities, Florida’s top U.S. Senate candidates are no closer to mutually agreeing to more debates before Election Day.

Murphy and Rubio have so far committed to only two events together: a debate on Oct. 17 in Orlando and another in Davie on Oct. 26.

Both campaigns say publicly that they’re open to potential compromise, but the odds of that being anything more than political posturing are slim. Neither Rubio nor Murphy is giving an inch, but each continues to accuse the other of ducking ample chances to debate.

Rubio has accepted at least eight invitations to debate Murphy. He added two this week: one from Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace and another from the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute and WJXT Channel 4.

Neither of those events have confirmed dates — a detail that would require negotiations with Murphy’s campaign, which hasn’t come to the table. It’s unlikely Murphy would accept the Fox News debate, though, because the cable news channel caters to a conservative audience.

Meanwhile, Murphy is holding steadfast to his commitment of three debates and one candidate forum, which he announced last week. Rubio seems equally unwilling to hash out details over one of those debates and the forum, citing concerns of bias in Murphy’s favor.

“[Rubio’s] ask for six debates was clearly disingenuous since he is now afraid to even do four,” Murphy spokesman Joshua Karp said. “Marco Rubio is only out for himself, using a political strategy to serve his campaign instead of the voters.”

Yet Murphy is employing campaign strategy over debates, too.

Karp said early Tuesday that Murphy hasn’t “made any other announcements or decisions regarding debates,” but the Jupiter congressman’s campaign quietly has.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2016 9:17am]


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