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Patrick Murphy Won't Commit To More Debates With Sen. Rubio

Steve Newborn
Patrick Murphy talks with supporters at the Arco Iris restaurant in West Tampa Monday

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy talked to about a dozen Democratic faithful at the Arco Iris Restaurant in West Tampa  Monday. There, Murphy refused to say if he will participate in all six debates incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed.

"You know, look - I would rather be debating the issues themselves, not debating debates," he said. "And I'm going to continue making sure than my message is clear - that the differences for what I stand for versus what he stands for is seen by everybody in this state."

So far, both Murphy and Rubio have agreed to two debates in October.  During the primaries, both declined to participate in any debates. However, polls have them running close to each other, so there might be more incentive for a debate now.

Murphy also touted his Democratic bonafides, including supporting comprehensive immigration reform, battling climate change and increasing the minimum wage. He outlined some of the differences separating Democrats and Republicans in November's election.

"I really believe - as a lot of people at this table do - is that this is perhaps the most consequential presidential election we've ever had in our life," he said to a dozen people gathered in the restaurant. "And the differences couldn't be more stark between the two candidates - whether that's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or whether that's Senator Rubio and myself."

Most polls have the two candidates either neck-and-neck or Murphy slightly trailing Rubio - even if Rubio has much greater name recognition.

"We have a great opportunity," Murphy said, "once we continue to build that name ID over the next fifty days, and continue to do events like this, and you all helping send emails to your friends and knocking on doors and we're doing TV ads and all that - as we continue to do that, our name ID is going to go up. And making sure people know who Senator Rubio is."

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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