TALLAHASSEE — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy continued on Monday to pressure Republican incumbent Marco Rubio to drop his support for Donald Trump, after an 11-year-old video surfaced Friday that showed the Republican presidential nominee bragging about groping women.
Rubio sent a tweet late Friday condemning Trump's recorded comments as "vulgar, egregious and impossible to justify," but he hasn't gone as far as other Republicans — including a slew of sitting U.S. senators — in withdrawing his endorsement of Trump.
In a morning call with reporters, Murphy said Rubio needs to do more to "stand up to Trump" instead of "silently standing by" while Trump "boasts about sexually assaulting women."
He repeated his challenge to Rubio, urging him to either "withdraw his support for Trump or withdraw from the race."
"Florida women and families deserve better than a tweet," Murphy said. "Rubio offers up meaningless rhetoric when he has to and stays completely silent when he can get away with it. That's not leadership; that's cowardice."
Rubio's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, including questions from the Herald/Times about whether Rubio would withdraw his support for Trump and if he still planned to vote for him. Friday's tweet has been Rubio's only public comment about the Trump tape.
For his part, Murphy said of Trump's comments: "His statements were not just 'locker room talk.' They were vile, offensive and I think they were downright wrong. It's dangerous and it contributes to a culture that devalues women and makes our country unsafe."
Murphy started laying the pressure on Rubio on Friday afternoon after the Washington Post first reported about the leaked Access Hollywood footage showing Trump's lewd remarks. Murphy over the weekend tried to raise money off the controversy and Rubio's continued support for Trump.
Murphy notes that Rubio has argued, as part of his campaign pitch for re-election, that he wants to serve as a check-and-balance on the White House but, Murphy asked, "how can he serve as a check on a Trump presidency if he won't even hold Trump accountable as a candidate?"
"It's Marco Rubio's silence that is once again proving no matter what the issue ... Marco Rubio will always put his political ambition above Florida families," Murphy said.
Joining Murphy on Monday's call was Cecile Richards — president of both Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its political action fund — who criticized Rubio about his position on women's rights, such as abortion. Planned Parenthood's action fund endorsed Murphy, and Richards mentioned she'd be helping Murphy's campaign at an event in Orlando on Monday.