Rubio challenges Murphy to six debatesRubio challenges Murphy to six debates; Murphy offers his own counter-challenge
UPDATE: 2:25 p.m.
Since Marco Rubio challenged Patrick Murphy this morning to six debates, the U.S. Senate candidates have been trading barbs all day.
Murphy initially responded to Rubio this morning by proposing a counter-challenge -- that Rubio commit to serving a full six-year term, if elected. (It's something that Rubio, as recently as Monday, continues to be vague and non-committal about, prompting criticism that he's already interested in running for president again in 2020.)
Murphy said in a statement he was "excited to debate Marco Rubio" but called Rubio's proposal "nothing more than a desperate attempt to try and change the campaign narrative from the fact that he abandoned Florida."
At a press conference soon after in West Palm Beach, Murphy told reporters he won't commit to the six debates Rubio wants unless Rubio agrees to his counter-challenge.
"I'm going to take his challenge seriously," Murphy said. "We've already agreed to one debate, I'm looking forward to that and our teams are going to continue, you know, talking to hash out the details there. There are going to be multiple debates."
Murphy camp says it has only agreed to Leadership Florida debate on Oct 26. Won't commit to others unless Rubio says he'd serve 6 years.— Alex Leary (@learyreports) August 31, 2016
Rubio's campaign then accused Murphy of "ducking debates already."
"Just one day into the general election and Patrick Murphy is already making excuses about ducking debates," Rubio campaign manager Clint Reed said in a statement. "Marco believes Floridians deserve to know where each candidate stands on important issues facing our state and nation, but apparently Murphy doesn't agree. What is he so scared of?"
Rubio's campaign told the Tampa Bay Times today that it had accepted an invitation for a debate, possibly in early October.
Herald reporter Alex Daugherty and Times reporter Alex Leary contributed to this report.
ORIGINAL POST: 8:15 a.m.
Wasting no time after their primary night victories, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio challenged Democrat Patrick Murphy this morning to six live, televised debates before the November election.
Rubio said this is what the 2010 candidates agreed to. He wants the media to sponsor the debates, including one by a Spanish-language outlet.
Asked last week about debating Rubio, Murphy said "yes, absolutely" but he didn't commit to any specifics at the time. Murphy said their campaigns would negotiate the details.
Minutes after Murphy's primary race was called last night, his campaign announced a 10 a.m. press conference in West Palm Beach, signaling his own official start to the general election campaign.
Here's Rubio's letter to Murphy today:
August 31, 2016
4521 PGA Blvd #412
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Congratulations on your primary victory.
This election comes at a pivotal time for our state and our nation. From domestic issues here at home, to foreign policy and national security, I believe the challenges we face today are as important as they are complex.
Despite our differences, I hope we can both agree that voters deserve to know where we stand on the important issues of our time.
In 2010, all three candidates for the U.S. Senate – Kendrick Meek, Charlie Crist and myself – agreed that Floridians deserved a discussion and debate about the future of our state and nation that went beyond 30-second ads and TV news soundbites. To that end, we all agreed to a series of live televised debates – six in all – hosted by various media outlets.
I am writing because when it comes to a debate about our future, I believe Floridians today deserve no less than what they received in 2010. Therefore, I am asking you to join me in committing to six media-sponsored live debates between now and Election Day. Just as we did in 2010, at least one of these debates should be sponsored by a Spanish language media outlet.
I hope you accept this offer and I look forward to your response.
United States Senator