Advertisement

Marco Rubio at Tampa rally: Democrats ‘will destroy this country’

The U.S. senator from Florida is making his final pitch to voters.
 
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at his "Getting Things Done” rally at Grand Cathedral Cigars on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Tampa.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at his "Getting Things Done” rally at Grand Cathedral Cigars on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Tampa. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]
Published Nov. 1, 2022|Updated Nov. 1, 2022

TAMPA — Sen. Marco Rubio came to Tampa Tuesday with a closing message for his U.S. Senate reelection campaign: Democrats have ruined the country. Republicans will fix it.

Speaking at Grand Cathedral Cigars — “It smells like the front porch of my home when I was growing up,” Rubio, who’s of Cuban descent, quipped early in his remarks — the senator assailed Democratic leaders for what he described as a failing economy, open borders and rampant crime.

“The Democratic Party has brought this country nothing but chaos and disorder,” Rubio told the midmorning crowd of about 60. “If we don’t stop them, they will destroy the country.”

Rubio is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief who has outraised Rubio $73.3 million to $39.4 million, federal campaign records show.

Rubio argues that Demings has voted for policies that have contributed to economic inflation. At one point during the rally, Rubio took a copy of USA Today and read to the crowd about rising food prices.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio holds up a USA TODAY article about Thanksgiving food prices rising while speaking about inflation during his “Getting Things Done” rally at Grand Cathedral Cigars on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Tampa.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio holds up a USA TODAY article about Thanksgiving food prices rising while speaking about inflation during his “Getting Things Done” rally at Grand Cathedral Cigars on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, in Tampa. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]

The senator’s remarks were part of a series of stops his campaign is calling “Getting Things Done” rallies. Among the things Rubio says he would accomplish during his third term: Legislation to increase America’s production of oil and natural gas; more funding for border security and a law stripping federal funding from prosecutors who do not sufficiently punish criminals.

He also promised Republicans would end Congress’ investigations into the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

“If you committed a crime, you committed a crime,” Rubio said. “When are we going to have a committee that meets on national TV to talk about the riots in 2020 where they burned down cities and torched police cars?”

Rubio, who’s been one of Florida’s U.S. senators since 2011, also touted some of his legislative achievements: the Paycheck Protection Program provision in the March 2020 coronavirus relief CARES act and recent legislation facilitating access to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits for military members who get sick from burn pits while serving, for example.

For her part, Demings was active on the campaign trail as well, appearing Tuesday with President Joe Biden for a rally in South Florida.

Her campaign criticized Rubio’s Tampa stop in a statement.

“Marco Rubio can host all the rallies he wants but at the end of the day, Floridians know him for who he is: a career politician who doesn’t show up for work,” campaign press secretary Devon Cruz wrote in an email.

Demings also released her final television advertisement of the cycle Monday. It begins by telling her life story: Demings is the daughter of a maid and a janitor who worked her way to become a leader in law enforcement, the advertisement says. (It goes on to criticize Rubio for missing committee hearings and votes as a senator.)

Polls show Rubio has pulled away from Demings in the Senate race. The political forecasting site FiveThirtyEight has Rubio leading by seven points.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times Election Coverage

VOTER GUIDE: Here’s who is on your ballot and where they stand on issues.

TAX BREAKS, FATE OF COMMISSION: Here’s a look at what measures are on the November ballot.

SUPREME COURT RETENTIONS? Florida voters will decide whether to retain 5 of 7 state Supreme Court justices.

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the elections in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription. Or click here to make a donation to the Tampa Bay Times Journalism Fund.