Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Marco Rubio's robotic debate answers, and uppercut punch, on the Donald Trump issue

At times Marco Rubio was, well, robotic. And Patrick Murphy was dazed by a punch.

Both instances in Monday night's U.S. Senate debate came courtesy of Donald Trump.

Rubio knew he would face questions about Trump and was prepared to distance himself from him — repeatedly, without giving an inch to Hillary Clinton. Some examples:

• "I don't trust either one of them."

• "Horrifying choice America has in this election cycle."

• "Not the most inspirational choice we've ever had in America history."

• "A disturbing choice."

• "A difficult and less than ideal choice."

• "Two deeply flawed candidates."

Rubio also repeatedly invoked the dodge "God willing" when asked if he would serve a full six-year term if re-elected and not run for president in 2020, as is widely assumed should Clinton win.

"Just a clarification, are you promising to fill all six years of your term?" moderator Jonathan Karl asked.

"I'm going to serve in the Senate for the next six years, God willing," Rubio replied. "And let me tell you, not only am I going to serve in the Senate over the next six years, we are going to get a lot done, God willing, over the next six years."

So this means you are not running for president?

"I'm going to be a senator for the next six years on behalf of the state of Florida. You can't be a senator or president at the same time. I am running for the U.S. Senate, I'm going to serve six year, God willing."

Murphy, trailing in the polls and facing eroding financial support from national Democrats, hit his message points, implying Rubio is hostile to women on reproductive rights and other issues, while painting an overall picture that his rival supports the lewd behavior of Trump. So Rubio went for a counterpunch, noting that several years ago, a photo was posted on Facebook showing Murphy "groping a woman."

"That's inappropriate behavior!" Rubio said of the photo, which appeared to show Murphy's hand on the woman's breast.

Murphy's flustered response: "Let's just talk about Donald Trump again, right?"

The 33-year-old Democrat spent part of Tuesday trying to explain the photo, saying it was from his 20s and he and his girlfriend were at dinner. "Look, when Donald Trump goes low, Marco Rubio goes lower," Murphy told reporters in West Tampa.

Times staff writer Tony Marrero contributed to this report.

Marco Rubio's robotic debate answers, and uppercut punch, on the Donald Trump issue 10/18/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 6:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.