Saturday, December 16, 2017
Politics

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.

Comments
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Published: 12/16/17
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

WASHINGTON — As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Published: 12/15/17