A national pro-choice group has launched a six-figure ad buy in two Florida TV markets to attack Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio over his stance on women's abortion rights as they relate to the Zika virus.
NARAL Pro-Choice America -- which has endorsed Rubio's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- is spending $175,000 to run its 30-second spot in Orlando and West Palm Beach and to publish digital ads online.
Palm Beach County has had two confirmed cases of locally-transmitted Zika, but no local cases have been reported in Orlando.
The ad criticizes Rubio for his position on abortion -- he opposes it -- and accuses Rubio of "putting his agenda ahead of the health and safety of women and families."
Rubio said last month his opposition to abortion includes pregnant women infected with Zika. The virus can cause certain birth defects, such as microcephaly, if a woman is infected during pregnancy.
One of the Zika funding bills Rubio supported in late June had language that was a non-starter for Senate Democrats because it cut out Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico from funding that would help the island combat the virus. (A month earlier, Rubio also supported a Zika funding bill that didn't include any such condition; both bills were $800 million short of the $1.9 million requested.)
"Rubio's actions are putting women and families in Florida, ground zero for this outbreak, at much greater risk," Sasha Bruce, NARAL's senior vice president for campaigns and strategy, said in a statement. "Women deserve a full range of health care options, including abortion, not options limited by Senator Rubio's extreme and out-of-touch political beliefs. This is true always, but especially during a public health crisis."
When asked for a response to the ad, Rubio's campaign revised and reiterated a statement released earlier today -- accusing Murphy "and his allies" of continuing "to exploit this public health and economic emergency in order to score political points."
NARAL is running similar attack ads against Republican U.S. Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
The ads' launch comes as Congress goes back in session, with no visible end to the stand-off over Zika funding. Meanwhile, Rubio and Murphy on Tuesday continued to criticize each other on the funding issue.