Rubio Sticks With Trump; Murphy Needs Momentum

By James Arkin

ORLANDO, Fla. — Sen. Marco Rubio stood behind Donald Trump this week, but he didn’t stand up with him.
The junior senator didn’t appear at any of the four rallies the GOP nominee held across the state. Dozens of other Republicans have withdrawn their support from Trump’s flagging campaign in the wake of a published video of him uttering lewd comments about women and saying he made unwanted sexual advances.

Rubio did not join those who fled the campaign, but in a tweet Friday, he did condemn Trump’s comments. In a statement Tuesday, Rubio said that while he had rejected Trump’s “offensive rhetoric and behavior” and wished there were “better choices for President,” he viewed Trump as the lesser of two evils.

Trump barreled through Florida in the past three days, hoping to galvanize supporters in a critical swing state and stem the bleeding that began when the Washington Post published the controversial video. Democrats have intensified their efforts to link down-ballot Republicans to Trump in the wake of the video’s release, hoping the nominee’s falling poll numbers will hurt GOP senators at the polls.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, who’s running against Rubio, was no different.

“Marco Rubio is continuing to double down and go in the complete opposite direction of so many others who have the courage and fortitude to stand up,” the Democratic lawmaker said in an interview with RealClearPolitics. “It reeks of pure partisanship, selfishness, putting his own political ambitions in front of what’s best for Florida.”

Murphy has tried to increase his visibility this week, appearing with Hillary Clinton at a major rally in Miami Tuesday morning and holding a press conference here Wednesday with Sen. Chris Murphy and victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting to mark the four-month anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. There, he said Rubio is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association for opposing gun control measures that came to a vote in the Senate earlier this year.

But while Patrick Murphy is hoping newfound momentum for Clinton and against Trump translates down the ticket to the Senate race, he’s facing a major problem in the final four weeks of the campaign: lack of resources.

National Democratic groups, which originally intended to spend more than $20 million in this Senate race, have pulled most of the money they had reserved for the final weeks of the campaign. The Democratic Senatorial Committee and Senate Majority PAC have spent just over $4 million for Murphy, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has only one final week of television reserved there. The Senate Majority PAC pulled the last of its money out of the state a week ago, just hours before the revelation of the video showing Trump’s comments about women.

Some Florida Democrats are frustrated the national groups are abandoning Murphy in favor of other competitive states with cheaper advertising.

“I think we could win,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, an early Murphy supporter. “It’s not going to be easy,” he added, but Democratic groups should spend every dollar they originally intended “if they’re interested in preventing Marco Rubio from running for president four years of now, which he clearly will be.”

“I think they had committed to [Murphy] and had put some money in advance in anticipation — had bought time. I think Murphy was counting on that,” Buckhorn said. “When they take TV money, that really sends him out with one hand behind his back.”

But for national Democrats, it was a decision borne out of necessity with races in the relatively inexpensive states of Missouri, North Carolina, and Indiana appearing as competitive, or more so, than Florida. They reallocated much of the money to those campaigns, seeking to ride red-leaning states to the Senate majority. The fact that those decisions came just before Trump’s poll numbers began to drop significantly was simply unfortunate timing for them. …read more

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