Florida Senate race: Marco Rubio and Val Demings clash over abortion, gun control
At Tuesday night’s debate, Rubio stuck to the Republican talking points when it came to abortion
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and his opponent U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat, went head to head on Tuesday night at Palm Beach State College.
They discussed issues including abortion, gun control, border security and inflation during their first and last debate before the election next month.
Florida’s rightward shift is evident in recent polls, as Rubio remains ahead with 47% compared to Demings’ 41%, though she has outraised him in campaign contributions, according to Axios.
The three-term congresswoman and former Orlando police chief accused the two-term senator of lying on multiple occasions throughout the debate. Meanwhile Rubio slammed Demings for supporting Biden’s economic agendas, according to NPR.
Abortion limitations and exceptions
On the issue of reproductive rights, Rubio stuck to party lines and talking points after Demings targeted him on abortion. When asked whether he would support an abortion ban with most exceptions if elected, Rubio said: “You talk about (Sen.) Lindsey Graham’s bill. That’s a four-month ban,” per Fox News.
The bill in question bans abortion after 15 weeks, except in cases of rape, incest or in cases of medical emergencies. However, Rubio has previously supported other laws without exceptions, per NBC News.
“The extremist on abortion in this campaign is Congresswoman Demings,” he said, claiming that she doesn’t support any type of restriction or limitation, whether it’s a four-month ban or a five-month ban.
When asked again if he would support a federal bill, he said it was irrelevant because a bill without exceptions would never pass in Congress, according to USA Today.
Demings responded saying she does not support going back to a time before Roe v. Wade was in place.
“We are not going back to a time when women are treated like second-class citizens or like property. And I’ll say it again … I support a woman’s right to abortion right up to the time of viability,” she said, per Fox News.
Gun control was another issue that the two candidates clashed over. Two mass shootings — at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 — unfolded under Rubio’s term as senator, according to The Associated Press.
Demings was quick to point out that no legislation has been passed to introduce gun restrictions, even though people are “being gunned down” everywhere from schools and colleges to the grocery store.
She also criticized him for voting against Biden’s bipartisan gun control bill.
Val Demings to Marco Rubio: “How long will you watch people being gunned down in first grade, fourth grade, high school, college, church, synagogue, a grocery store, a movie theater, a mall, and a nightclub and do nothing?” pic.twitter.com/vyKaLH6V4b— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 18, 2022
Rubio argued that gun restrictions wouldn’t have stopped mass shootings and they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
He also defended his opposition to gun restrictions by saying that some proposals, such as background checks, would not have stopped many mass shootings and that Americans have a Second Amendment right to protect themselves, per CNN.
Even though he previously supported age restrictions for certain types of guns, during the debate, he said it “doesn’t work.” Instead, he said guns should be taken away from people who are flagged by law enforcement, the report added.