ORLANDO, Fla. - The following is a transcript of the October 17 debate between U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy as provided by Gemstone Media, Inc.
Jonathan Karl: Good evening. I'm Jonathan Karl.
We're here at the University of Central Florida for this year's first debate between Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy. Tonight's debate is brought to you by WFTV in Orlando, and in partnership with ABC News and Politico Florida.
First, let me explain the rules. There will be questions. You will have one minute 30 seconds to respond to each of them and then 30 seconds for a rebuttal. The candidates are not allowed to ask questions of each other. That is something you two agreed to. We will be doing the questioning in this.
And now, Congressman Murphy. Opening statement.
Patrick Murphy: Thank you very much. It's great to be with you all this evening.
I was born and raised in the Florida Keys, got my start as an auditor and CPA, and I just had to get involved in public service because I was tired of the name calling, the finger pointing, all the bickering.
And I'm proud of my accomplishments in the Congress, over the past four years.
Proud that I was able to prevent cuts to Medicare.
Proud of the legislation I was able to pass to help lower our flood insurance rates, and proud of the provisions I passed on the house intelligence committee to help keep this country safe, and that's exactly why I've been ranked as one of the most independent members of congress because I work with anybody to solve a problem.
And you compare that to my opponent, Marco Rubio, who tells us he doesn't even like the job.
Right, which explains why he's got the worst voting record of any senator from Florida in nearly 50 years.
And still hasn't committed to serving a full term in the U.S. Senate.
And if that's not bad enough, he just doubled down on his endorsement of Donald Trump, showing he will continue to put his own political agenda in front of what's best for Florida.
I believe we can do more.
I believe we can do better, and that's why I'm running to be the Senator from Florida.
Jonathan Karl: Senator Rubio.
Marco Rubio: Thank you. I want to thank all of you, the Congressman and the University of Central Florida for having us here today.
And let me begin by saying tonight 18 years ago tonight I married my wife Jeanette. It was the best decision I ever made and I want to thank her for working alongside me in public service. Many of you know my story already.
I am the son of a bartender and a maid who were immigrants from the island of Cuba.
If they had gone to almost any other nation on this planet, there would be no way I would be standing on this stage tonight.
I have a debt to this country, but I've chosen to pay a part of it through public service.
In my nine years of the Florida Legislature, two of them as speaker and in my six in the United States Senate.
Tonight, you will hear about the numerous accomplishments, things that I've done, real things, not just letters I signed on to, not just bills that I co‑sponsored, but laws that we passed that have been good for America and good for the state of Florida, and I invite you to compare that to Patrick Murphy's record in Congress, who, after four years has not a significant achievement he can point to.
So I look forward to that debate tonight.
It's important for our state to know what their choice is this election.
Jonathan Karl: Congressman Murphy, Hillary Clinton's campaign has been hampered by concerns about her use of a private email server to send classified information, something the FBI called extremely careless, and we had a recent transcript showing Clinton saying that it is important for politicians to, quote, have a public and private position on issues.
You've said you trust her 100 percent, but most Floridians don't.
So my question to you is, why should they trust you, given your unqualified confidence in a presidential candidate that six out of ten Americans say they do not trust?
Patrick Murphy: Well, Secretary Clinton has already apologized for what she did, and she made it clear that she regrets that decision, and, in hindsight, wouldn't do it again, and that's a lot more than you can say about Donald Trump.
You see, I trust Secretary Clinton with the nuclear codes.
My opponent, Marco Rubio, made it clear, not only does he think Donald Trump is a con man, he went on to say he doesn't trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes, so I don't know what's changed from now to then, but I believe that Secretary Clinton is as qualified as anybody we've ever had to fill this role.
She will hit the ground running on day one.
And you compare that to Donald Trump, who's as unfit and unqualified as anybody we've ever had for this office.
Who is bragging about sexually assaulting women.
You see the vast amount of women that have come out recently with these charges.
It is shameful to me.
And I don't understand how Senator Rubio can look himself in the mirror and still stand by Donald Trump's side after everything that's come out about him.
Marco Rubio: Well, I would say if Congressman Murphy trusts Hillary Clinton 100 percent, he's in rare company because not even Tim Kaine is willing to say that and he's her running mate.
The second thing I would tell you is I don't trust either one of them and the job of the U.S. Senate is not to blindly trust the president because they happen to be from your own party.
The job of the U.S. Senator in our republic is to represent their state and fight and uphold the constitution of the united states and I am prepared to do that no matter who is elected to the presidency, and that is one of the big differences in this campaign.
Of the two of us on this stage tonight, there is only one person who, if I go to the senate, will stand up to the next president of the united states, and that is me because I have done it consistently throughout this campaign, including repeatedly taking on the nominee of my own party.
But Senator, if you can't stand up to Donald Trump as a candidate, how in the world are you going to stand up to him as the President of the United States.
Think about what he's done. Think about how unqualified he is.
Just a couple weeks it came out that he has violated the embargo, something that I know you care a lot about and you still stand by his side.
Said that Mexicans are rapists and criminals and he wants to deport 11 million people from this country. Makes fun of disabled people and veterans, and you've continued to stand by his side.
You see, there's been 16 U.S. Senators that had the courage and the internal fortitude to not only disavow Donald Trump, but un-endorse him, and you doubled down on your endorsement of him.
So where is the courage? It proves to all of us that you're going to continue to put your own political ambition in front of what's best for Florida.
Marco Rubio: Congressman Murphy, on this stage tonight, there's only one person that's ever run against Donald Trump and tried to defeat him, and that was me.
There's only one person on this stage tonight that's ever voted against Donald Trump, and that was me, and by the way, there's only one family on stage tonight whose family made millions of dollars from Donald Trump, and that's you.
Jonathan Karl: Let's turn to your party's nominee a little bit more here.
You questioned Donald Trump's sanity. You've called him a con man, a lunatic. You've said he couldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes. You've said he is, quote, the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency, and that was months ago, before the current revelations.
Now, as Congressman Murphy has alluded to, at least ten women have come forward to allege that they've been inappropriately touched, or worse, by trump in ways precisely that he described.
So, my question to you is how do you explain to your sons and your daughters why you believe that a man who boasted of committing sexual assault should be President of the United States of America.
Marco Rubio: Well, if there are any kids in America who understand what a horrifying choice America has in this election cycle, it's mine, because they've lived through it over the last 14 months.
It's not just my children. I feel terrible for the young people across America I run in to every day that tell me this is the first time I'm ever going to vote and what they have before them are two deeply flawed candidates.
I stand by everything I ever said in the Republican Primary, and I would admit right off the bat, this is not the most inspirational choice we've ever had in American history in terms of these two candidates.
There's no doubt that there is a lot of things I disagree with in the nominee of my party, and I've taken him on when he says things that are wrong on policy, and I've condemned him when he said things that are aggressive, outrageous, vulgar and inappropriate, and I will continue to do so.
The problem is the other party has nominated someone who has repeatedly violated federal law.
They violated someone who destroyed evidence.
They violated someone who we cannot trust with classified information.
They nominated someone who lied to the family of four brave Americans who lost their lives in the service of our country in Benghazi, and who, today, on this very day it was revealed, from documents from the FBI, that her state department was trying to get the FBI to unclassify certain documents so her e‑mails would be compliant.
A person who has a 30‑year record, a 30‑year record, of scandal and outrage.
That's who they've nominated, and so this election is a disturbing choice between someone that I disagree with on many things and someone who I disagree with on virtually everything.
It is a difficult and less than ideal choice, and that is why it's so important that our next U.S. Senator is someone willing to stand up and take on whoever the next president of the United States is, and the only one running on this stage tonight that will do that is me.
Jonathan Karl: But Senator Rubio, is there anything that Donald Trump could say or do that would cause you to rethink your decision to support him to be president of the United States?
Marco Rubio: Of course. Like a lot of the things that Hillary Clinton stands for and does. If he were to do those things, then we would have no choice in this election.
Listen, i think it's pretty clear Donald Trump is not my first choice or even my tenth choice to be the nominee of the Republican Party. 14 million voters in the Republican Primaries chose differently.
But one of the reasons why I changed my mind and ran for re‑election is because I know that no matter who wins this election, you are going to need people in the united states senate willing to stand up to the next president of the united states when they are wrong on policy or when they are wrong on their behavior.
And I'm the only one running that will.
I have repeatedly done so when it comes to the nominee of my party.
Congressman Murphy hasn't once broken with the nominee of his party when she's been caught doing all these things, he has not once condemned her, not once pointed finger at her, has not once broken with her on any of her behaviors or quite frankly on any of her major policies.
Jonathan Karl: Congressman Murphy.
Patrick Murphy: it's disturbing to hear my opponent say this, after it came out that Donald Trump had been taking advantage of women, that he is a serial, you know, abuser.
Senator Rubio tweeted something out, tweeted, 160 GOP officials had the courage to stand up and say that that is wrong, and they unendorsed Donald Trump.
So no, this isn't just a binary choice, and there are people that have the courage to stand up and to do what's best, and i appreciate your question, because you do have to look your children in the eye in ten to 15 years from now and explain this position.
There's a famous quote from James Clark. It says a politician thinks of the next election. A statesman thinks of the next generation.
Sometimes in life, you gotta think a little bit deeper, right? You gotta dig inside and think about the consequences of what we're doing, of what we're saying, what our candidates represent.
And it's exactly why I have one of the most independent voting records in the entire congress, because I don't put on blinders and just vote.
I do what I think is best, and I will always stand up for something if I think it's wrong.
Jonathan Karl: Let's –
Marco Rubio: if I may interject. I am thinking about the next generation, congressman.
I'm thinking specifically about my four children, which is why I don't want to see Hillary Clinton president of the united states because she will redefine the supreme court in the way that will redefine the constitution of the united states for the better part a quarter century and I am also thinking about my children because of the Iran deal which this president put in place and you support, a deal that delivers billions of dollars to the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, an Iran deal that already delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to the ayatollah in Iran.
And a deal that you support and said is going to lead to peace in our time.
Look at the history books, the last person that said that has regretted it for over 80 years.
This will lead to a nuclear Iran. That's the future that I'm concerned about and those are the policies Hillary Clinton supports and so do you.
You said you don't trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes. You sit on the intelligence committee. You know what's at stake in this election.
Donald Trump wants to be buddies with Vladimir Putin, says there's nothing wrong with him, that he's a strong leader. You should know better than that.
We're both on the intelligence committee. The difference is I show up to those committees. I show up. And I'm there, because it's important when it's national security at stake.
But my opponent continues to put his own political ambition in front of what's best for Florida, in front of protecting our country.
Marco Rubio: I am. And so are you on the intelligence committee, Congressman, and if any of your staffers had ever done what Hillary Clinton did with classified information, they would have been fired and they would have been prosecuted, and yet you still stand with her. I don't trust Hillary Clinton with classified information. She has proven that she cannot handle it and that she would expose it to foreign intelligence agencies, as she has.
Jonathan Karl: Excuse me. You trust Donald Trump with classified information?
Marco Rubio: Well, again ‑‑ no, but this choice ‑‑ and it comes to this election, I've already admitted to you, this is two less than ideal options that we have before this country.
I'm not arguing here that this is a race between Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. These are two deeply flawed candidates, which is why it's so important, as I've already said repeatedly, that we have a candidate for the U.S. Senate that, if elected, will stand up to these people. In this election, the only one that's stood up to both candidates is me.
Apparently Congressman Murphy thinks that Hillary Clinton can do no wrong. And the vast majority of Floridians disagree with that.
Jonathan Karl: We have to get to the panel, but one other question. On the nuclear codes. You've said you don't trust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes because of his temperament and he's unstable and because he's a lunatic. Do you not trust Hillary Clinton with the nuclear codes?
Marco Rubio: I don't trust Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, which could lead to a conflict anywhere in the world that this nation cannot afford and should not be involved in.
I don't trust her on foreign policy because she's the author of the Russian reset, which is in Russia in a way we have never seen until she not only entered into that agreement but bragged about it.
I don't trust her on foreign policy because she supports the Iran deal, which is delivering billions upon billions of dollars to a radical nation led by that nobody wants to acquire nuclear weapons.
I don't trust her foreign policy.
Jonathan Karl: Greg.
Greg Warmoth: Thank you, Jonathan. Thank you both for being here.
Congressman Murphy, you've called for gun buyers to be checked against what's known as the terrorist watch list, yet the Pulse nightclub shooter happened about 12 miles from here, was not on that list when he bought his weapon and some worry that such a watch list provision would actually racially profile lawful citizens and infringe their second amendment rights.
Can you explain what attacks this would have stopped based on your beliefs?
Marco Rubio: Yes. Thank you for that question. And it's so important we talk about that as we are here in Orlando.
From Newtown to Orlando. You know, we cannot let these tragedies become the new norm. And I had a chance to meet Christine Leinonen, who is actually with us this evening. She's one of the bravest people I ever met. Her son Christopher was killed in the Pulse shooting, and Christine has found the courage to stand up and look for solutions. And if she can find the courage to find solutions, we should be able to stand with her for solutions, and that's why I believe that we must close the terrorist loophole, that we must expand background checks to ensure that these weapons aren't getting in the wrong hands.
We should be investing more in mental health, right?
And these are things that are supported by the vast majority of Americans. The vast majority of gun owners.
But you think about my opponent, Marco Rubio, who's taken millions and millions of dollars from the gun lobby, who's doing their bidding in the U.S. Senate, and that's shameful.
You see, he just dropped a piece of legislation for this so‑called terrorist loophole, and it's shameful. It was written by the NRA, and he's putting it up as if it's his legislation. It would do nothing to prevent these acts of violence from happening again.
We can do more.
But my opponent, Marco Rubio, has continued to stand against every sensible piece of legislation, things like background checks, closing the terrorist gun loophole.
It's unconscionable to me that in this day and age a suspected terrorist can walk into a gun store, buy a weapon that day and walk out with it. How in the world are we going to live with ourselves if that's allowed.
Senator Rubio is too concerned with his next election, next presidential bid, whatever it might be, and too worried about his special interest donors.
Marco Rubio: I think that a couple of points are important to say.
Number one, we are here in Orlando today, and irrespective of our individual political views I don't think there's any doubt that all of us were heartbroken at what happened in Orlando.
The stories of the people who lost their lives, although I didn't know any of them personally, I've had a chance to meet a number of the family members afterwards and in their stories, I recognize people that I know, that are in my family, that are in our community, and that we love, but let's not forget what happened in pulse was not a random act of violence, it was a terrorist attack, by a jihadist, who has pledged allegiance to ISIS, a group that I have been warning about for four years while the president was still saying they were just a JV team.
And Congressman, my law was not written by the NRA. It was written by my staffers. In fact, the NRA has not even come out in support of the law I've written.
It says if you've been investigated for terror any time in the last decade and you try to go in and buy a gun, that sale will be suspended and the FBI will be notified and they will be given the opportunity to see what you are up to and investigate you and if they find that, in fact, you are up to a plan on terror, they can immediately arrest you.
And by the way, the law that I wrote has a chance of passing, which is a fundamental difference between Congressman Murphy and I, I get laws passed, I get things done.
He does not. And we cannot afford a U.S. Senator that cannot turn ideas into policy.
Patrick Murphy: Can I just comment? You see, in his legislation that was put forward, this says that the FBI has to prove that it's a suspected terrorist.
If the FBI knew that they were terrorists, they'd already be in jail.
Your bill does nothing. It's a sham.
And it's shameful that you sit here in front of Christine and Brandon in Orlando and look them in the eye and say you're actually trying to do something.
And the audacity that you have to say that you decided to run for the senate after this pulse nightclub shooting, when you've been one of the most anti‑gay senators in the country, and done nothing to prevent these tragedies from happening.
Jonathan Karl: Nancy.
Marco Rubio: No. Excuse me. What's shameful is your effort to politicize a horrible thing for our country. A terrorist attack by radical Islamic terrorists that we could have defeated had it not been for people like you who continue to defeat cuts to our military, which you said would make it stronger.
Second, that is not what my bill does. It says anyone that's been investigated for terror. The reason why Omar Mateen was able to buy a weapon was he was no longer under active investigation. And this bill would say if you have even been suspected of terror in the last decade, the FBI will be notified that you've gone in to buy a gun, and will have the opportunity to stop that sale, and to investigate what you're up to.
It does have due process protections, because while those lists are informative, they are not perfect, and there are people in this country who wind up on those lists, or even under investigation that end up being cleared and had nothing ‑‑ and including a journalist at the weekly standard in Washington, D.C.
Jonathan Karl: Okay. Nancy.
Nancy Alvarez: Senator, let's stay on the topic of what happened at Pulse, because as you know, because you say you met some of the families, it was Noche Latin. It was Latin night. So most of the victims at the Pulse nightclub that night of the attack were Hispanic. Some survivors and some family members of some victims spoke to me personally about being afraid to ask for help for fear of being deported. People working across our state, including students at this very university shared those same fears. Some are terrified about what may happen in November.
When it comes to immigration reform, what is your response to some Latinos who say you could have made something happen during your first term, but you simply sold out.
Marco Rubio: Well, first of all, I would say that we helped scores of families involved in the Pulse nightclub attack.
In fact, my office embedded two staffers in the victim aid center for over a month and helped numerous people, not just navigate the process, but also bring relatives in from abroad, and we never asked anyone's status in our helping of them.
I personally intervened with the director of the FBI because there was an issue in getting aid because the FBI was involved in literally their letterhead had ‑‑ the FBI letterhead on it and so it impeded the ability to deliver aid.
Nancy Alvarez: They fear ‑‑
Marco Rubio: I understand. I'm going to get to that part of your question. On the issue of immigration that you asked about. Listen, immigration is not something I read about in a book. Nor is it an issue that I discovered four weeks ago when Patrick Murphy's consultants told him he needed to do better among Hispanics.
This is an issue that I understand personally.
My wife's family are immigrants. My parents were immigrants. My grandparents were immigrants. I live in a community of immigrants. I personally know people, children included, who are in this country out of status, illegally brought here at a very young age, and I see the sadness that they're going through.
I want to fix the problem.
We cannot fix it with a comprehensive approach and a one‑size‑fits‑all bill. The votes just simply aren't there.
There's only one way forward on immigration and it involves a three‑step process.
Step one would be to prove to the American people that illegal immigration is truly under control. The second step would be to modernize our legal immigration system so that it's not as bureaucratic, and it works better.
You don't have to hire a thousand lawyers to help you navigate the process.
I know that once we've done those two things, the enormous majority of Americans, the enormous majority of Floridians and the enormous majority of republicans would support doing something very reasonable with people that are not criminals, that have been here a long time, and especially with young people who were brought here through no fault of their own.
Patrick Murphy: Excuse me.
You know, after hearing your story again, it's even more shocking that you turned your back on those who trusted you the most.
You see, we are a nation of immigrants.
That's what built this country.
And you used to be the champion.
You were part of the gang of eight.
You were the champion of comprehensive immigration reform.
And then what happened?
You decided to run for president.
So you flip‑flopped on that issue and you know don't support a pathway to citizenship.
You no longer support those dreamers, and if that's not bad enough, you've doubled down on your endorsement of Donald Trump, the man who wants to build a wall, who thinks that Mexicans are rapists and criminals, who wants to deport 11 to 12 million people, and that's who you're supporting?
Senator, it's shocking that you continue to put your own political ambition in front of what's best for Florida and these immigrants.
Marco Rubio: If I may respond. First of all, Congressman Murphy, you've never even been involved in the immigration reform issue.
You only started talking about it like four weeks ago. You might have signed on to some letters, maybe had a Facebook page. Your involvement on it has been zero.
Number two, I'm not sure that you informed people that in 2013 you voted for the homeland security bill to restart deportations of dreamers, and number three you talk about flip flop, Congressman Murphy in December of 2011, you changed your name.
You changed your party and you moved from South Beach to West Palm Beach to run for Congress. That's not a flip flop, that's a metamorphosis.
Patrick Murphy: Senator, let's be clear. You're the one who left Florida and spent all your time in Iowa and New Hampshire. You haven't even met the mayor of Tampa or Tallahassee. You've not met them and that's your home state so don't lecture me on Florida and these flip flops. You're the inning can of flip-flops.
Nancy Alvarez: Congressman Murphy, speaking of flip-flops, though, three years ago you did vote for a homeland security bill that would have opened the door to the deportation of dreamers.
So how do you explain your actions then and your words now?
Marco Rubio: He's running for senate.
Patrick Murphy: Well, I support comprehensive immigration reform, and I always have, and I believe that we have to make sure it is comprehensive. We have to make sure, number one, that we are securing our borders, that we know exactly who's in this country.
We have to make sure that there is a pathway to citizenship, to make sure that everybody that's in this country, undocumented, that they have that pathway.
They've gotta get in the back of the line, right? They've gotta pay their back taxes, and we've gotta make sure that there is that pathway. We've gotta make sure those students that are in this country going to our great universities don't get deported the day after they graduate. They deserve a pathway to citizenship.
Jonathan Karl: Marc Caputo.
Marc Caputo: Question for you, Congressman Murphy. You support the affordable care act, Obamacare, but people have seen their premiums rise, even though it's called the affordable care act, some people say these are becoming unaffordable plans. People were told they could keep their plans if they liked them and they lost their plans.
What do you say to those people and what do you propose to do about this problem?
Patrick Murphy: Well, the affordable care act was a huge step forward for our country, but it's not perfect, and there's many things that we have to do to improve it, and that's exactly what I've spent my time in the congress trying to do is find those moderate reforms to improve the affordable care act, and you think of my opponent, Senator Marco Rubio, right, who has spent the last six years in the senate trying to undermine that legislation.
You see, he wants to take us back to the days where women could be charged more than men just for being women, where insurance companies could deny you coverage if you had a preexisting condition, where insurance companies could drop you if you got sick.
Right? That's where Senator Rubio wants to take us back to.
I believe there are some common sense reforms we can make.
I think expanding Medicaid, that would be 900,000 people in Florida alone that would have access to healthcare, but you've gotta be willing to work across the aisle to find that common ground.
You see, there's no legislation in Washington that's ever perfect.
But instead of spending all your time for political purposes trying to rah-rah your base and tell them you're going to tear it down, why don't we work for Florida, right? Why don't we work to find that common ground and get things done.
Marco Rubio: Well, I would just say that to say that the Obamacare has some problems would be the equivalent to saying the Titanic has some problems. It has enormous problems.
Number 1, running up our debt.
Number two, people are losing their coverage. In about three weeks, over half a million Floridians are going to lose their coverage again. It's collapsing under its own weight because it doesn't work.
By the way, one of the things I'm proudest of is I led an effort to defund a bailout fund that they had built into Obamacare. They had put into Obamacare a fund where they were going to use your taxpayer money to bail out private insurance companies who lost money under Obamacare and I prevented that from happening.
Marc Caputo: Senator when you were in the Florida legislature, Florida remained a state with one of the highest uninsured rates.
Any sort of plans you guys came up with didn't work, so how can you criticize Obamacare when your solutions have failed?
Marco Rubio: Well, first of all, the solutions we offered provided competition. Sadly, the governor of the state of Florida undermined that effort for two years.
I've offered something to replace Obamacare. I've offered a concrete, specific, and detailed plan to replace Obamacare.
Every American will either have tax‑free money from their employer to buy health insurance. They will be provided health insurance from their employee, or they will have a refundable tax credit to purchase health insurance from any company they want in America across state lines.
Jonathan Karl: We've gotta take a quick break. We'll be right back.
Jonathan Karl: Welcome back to the Florida senate debate. I'm Jonathan Karl. The next question goes to Senator Rubio.
Senator Rubio, you had the worst attendance record in terms of votes of any of your colleagues in the Senate in 2015, and over the past year, you have missed a third of all roll call votes.
To my question to you is given that voting record, why should the voters of Florida send you back to the Senate, especially given this time, you're not even willing to promise to serve your full six‑year term?
Marco Rubio: well, first of all, I didn't like missing the votes, but like every sitting senator in the history of this republic that mounted a credible campaign for the presidency, I did.
But I ran for president because I deeply believe this country is headed in the wrong direction. I ran for the president for the same reason I ran for the senate in 2010 and the same reason I seek re‑election now.
I truly believe that if we continue on the road we are on right now, we are going to be the first Americans that leave our children worst off than ourselves.
That's why I ran for the presidency of the United States.
As far as my commitment to the office, however, that's proven by the results I've gotten for the state and for this country.
On foreign affairs, I passed the Girls Count Act, a bipartisan law that takes on human trafficking. My law. We passed it.
I passed laws that sanctioned Hezbollah, the toughest sanctions ever on Hezbollah to the point that Hezbollah has attacked me by name.
I not once, but twice, passed sanctions on Meduro and his dictatorship.
We passed a V.A. Accountability Act. Again, my law that we got passed that helps obviously an incredible issue in this state because of our veterans.
We passed a foreign aid transparency act.
These are actually achievements of things that I've done that we've passed and that prove not only my commitment to the job, and my commitment to the state, but my commitment to my service in the United States Senate, and I invite the voters to compare that to Congressman Murphy's record.
He does not have a single signature achievement in his entire four years in the United States Congress. Not a single law that he has sponsored has been signed in to law by the president of his own party.
And Florida cannot afford to send to the U.S. Senate someone who has never achieved anything after four years of serving in congress in Washington, D.C.
Patrick Murphy: Can I clear that up, please.
Senator, it's interesting you say that, because you've actually co‑sponsored two pieces of legislation that have passed the house. Legislation that will help our citrus farmers, folks that are unfortunately dealing with citrus greening. You signed on to legislation that will help lower flood insurance rates for so many Floridians.
And I'm proud of my accomplishments.
Proud of what I was able to do in the minority, in the U.S. Congress, one of the more dysfunctional bodies in the history of our country, and, if that's not enough, what about the $2 billion I was able to reach across the aisle, find some friends to work with and authorize to help fund the clean‑up efforts for the everglades, the intelligence provisions that have helped protect this country.
And I'm proud of those accomplishments.
So Senator, back to the original question, will you join me tonight in signing a six‑year pledge that you are committed to serving this job and not going to seek higher office.
Jonathan Karl: We did have a rule of not asking each other questions. If you care to answer ‑‑
Marco Rubio: Sure. Can I go ahead and rebut the whole thing?
Number one, I'm going to serve six years in the United States Senate, God willing, and I'm looking forward to it.
Number two, being in the minority is not an excuse. For the six years I was in the senate, I was in the minority.
Your opponent in the primary was Allen Grayson, someone who by most accounts is an interesting guy. And he got many more things done than you did, despite his things standing in the bay.
And you talk about the Everglades, Congressman, let me tell you something, I convinced, after years of opposition, the chairman of the water committee to change his mind and support the central Everglades planning project. In essence, I got more done for the Everglades in one day than you did in four years.
Patrick Murphy: You got somebody to change their mind? Are you serious? That's laughable! Come on! Senator ‑‑
Marco Rubio: Let me tell you, without him changing his mind, he was the chairman of the committee, that bill would have never moved forward.
Here you have someone, and Senator Inhofe, who was one of the leading opponents of the Central Everglades planning project and I spent two years talking to him, working with him on it.
Not only did he change his mind in March. He featured - He featured the Everglades as one of the reasons why we needed to pass the water bill. This is a significant achievement because when your colleagues in the Senate trust you, listen to you, and you have influence over them, that's how you get things done, Congressman.
That's why you never got anything done. That's why you never got anything done. Your colleagues don't trust you and you're not effective.
We can't afford that.
With all due respect, we really cannot afford to have someone in the U.S. Senate that doesn't know how to get things done for the state or for the country.
Jonathan Karl: Just a clarification. Are you saying ‑‑ are you promising to fill all six years of your term?
Marco Rubio: I'm going to serve in the senate for the next six years, God willing. And let me tell you, not only am I going to serve in the senate over the next six years, we're going to get a lot done, god wiggle, over the next six years for the state.
Jonathan Karl: So this means you're not running for President.
Marco Rubio: I'm going to be a senator for the next six years on behalf of the state of Florida. You can't be a Senator and President at the same time. So I am running for the United States Senate. I'm going to serve six years, God willing, and one of the things I really want to work on over the next six years, we just talked about.
For me the Everglades is personal. Out in Flamingo and Florida Bay we've created extraordinary memories for me and my family and I want to ensure that 20 or 30 years from now my sons and my daughters can have the same memories with their children and I want to be able to say that I had something to do in preserving that for them.
Jonathan Karl: Okay. Congressman Murphy, you described yourself as a small business owner, but your company is a subsidiary of a billion‑dollar construction firm founded by your father.
You call yourself a certified public accountant, but you have not been a CPA in the state of Florida. And for more than a year, your website said that you had two degrees from the University of Miami, when, in fact, you only had one. So my question is, have you misled Floridians about your experience and your qualifications?
Patrick Murphy: Absolutely not. And I'm glad you asked this question because it's important that you all hear from me. You see, Politifact, an independent fact‑checking agency has already debunked these accusations.
In fact, the last six attacks that Marco Rubio and his right-wing special interest friends have lobbed at me have all been debunked, labeled as false.
Here's the facts: I am a CPA. I got my license in 2009. I'm actually one of nine CPAs in the House of Representatives right now, and if elected to the Senate –
Jonathan Karl: Not in Florida, correct?
Patrick Murphy: I would be the second CPA in the history of our country to serve there. You look at our fiscal house, I think we could probably use a few more CPAs.
And I'm proud of my small business experience, proud of what i was able to do to help prevent that terrible oil spill from affecting Florida.
And I'm going to continue to, you know, do what I can to reach across the aisle and solve problems and I'm going to continue to use my background as a CPA, as a small business owner.
And, quite frankly, I'm happy to put my resume up as a CPA and a small business owner up against Marco Rubio, a career politician and lobbyist.
Marco Rubio: If I may, those are not my attacks. Those are ‑‑ that's the reporting of CBS in Miami and one of the most respected, and I would say feared investigative reporters in the state.
Here are the facts, Congressman.
You didn't run saying you were a CPA. You ran saying your experience working as a CPA would serve the country. You never had a license to work as a CPA in Florida so either you never worked as a CPA or you were working illegally as an unlicensed CPA.
Number two, you never had a single contract to clean up the Gulf of Mexico. So the company was only open for five months and it lost money from the beginning and number three, you didn't have a dual degree from the university of Miami because they don't give dual degrees at the university of Miami.
Why does someone make things up about their record? Because they don't have a real one to talk about.
He has yet to cite a single major legislative achievement in his name, or a single major cause that he has led in his four years in Congress. Congressman, you are not some outsider running to go in the senate. You are a sitting congressman who have been in the Congress for four years, and we are 40 minutes into this debate and you cannot tell us a single signature achievement that you have been able to achieve in your four years in the house. Not one.
Patrick Murphy: Senator, I kind of feel bad for you how little you know about business, actually. You see, the CPA is the same in all 50 states. It's the same exact test, and small business experience actually does matter because I understand what small business owners are going through.
I understand how tough it is to start a business, whether that's the regulations, whether that's the taxes, I believe we can do more to help those small business owners.
And that's exactly why I've done so much to reach across the aisle, to help solve these problems, to help get things done for our country.
You can't even commit to serving a full term. You've got one foot out the door running for president again.
Marco Rubio: That's a line he practiced before I actually said what I said today about being there for the next six years.
Number two, on the CPA ‑‑ well, let me tell you what I do know, and that is you may say that the test is the same all over the country, but in the state of Florida, we have laws and it says that you cannot work as a CPA in Florida if you do not have a Florida CPA license, which you do not have.
So if you worked as a CPA, you did so illegally in this state, and as far as tough opening up a small business, listen, I have all due respect to your family and the hard work they've done.
Your father has an excellent reputation, but congressman, in all due respect, it's not that hard to open a small business when your dad opens it for you with millions of dollars.
Patrick Murphy: Let's just clear something up because I never tried to hide that.
The name of the company was coastal environmental, right? The parent company is coastal construction. So you're trying to make something up here and make it as if it's ‑‑
Marco Rubio: No, I'm not the one making things up.
Jonathan Karl: Okay. Let's move on.
Greg Warmoth: Senator Rubio, you're talking about what you are and what you're not and you're quoted as saying in the past that you are not a scientist, yet $400 billion, as we sit here tonight, in property, is at risk because of rising seas, and on a dry day, streets in south Florida, where you live, have flooded.
In fact, that happened just yesterday, without a rain drop.
What are you going to do to protect Floridians in what is clearly an undeniable threat to our coastline, and your, my and your kids' drinking water.
Marco Rubio: Absolutely.
Greg Warmoth: With the salt water intrusion.
Marco Rubio: First of all, what happened yesterday on Miami Beach was the result of king tide. But you're absolutely right. And I am 100 percent in favor of mitigation.
If, in fact, sea levels are rising and they're impacting our communities, we should spend money to mitigate that.
I have a history of working on those issues going back to the Florida Legislature when I was speaker and we funded millions of dollars in water projects to prevent flooding.
The community I live in in West Miami used to flood severely. Today it floods less so.
Here's the only thing I've said: I've said that as a policy maker, you have to show me whether the laws that you want me to pass will actually impact the issue that you are raising.
And so I have people come to me and say we want you to pass these laws on carbon emissions and I asked them, well, how many inches of sea rise will it prevent, and they say well, none, but it will set a good example for the world.
And then I ask the economist, how many jobs will this destroy? How much would it increase the cost of living?
And they say pretty dramatically.
So they're asking me to support policies that will have no impact on the environment, since china is more than making up for any carbon cuts we would do, but it's going to have a devastating impact on our economy?
That's not the approach I want to take.
Here's the better approach.
Number one, mitigation.
Number two, I do want this nation to have an all of the above energy strategy.
That includes wind and solar and biofuels and renewables.
I just think it's irresponsible not to also say we're going to fully utilize natural gas and oil and nuclear energy, and, yes, clean coal technology has a place in it as well.
We should have the broadest, most diverse energy subset possible.
You look at Ex Era, the company head quartered here in Florida that now has spread across the country.
They're an excellent example of a company that's diversified its fuel source and that will help with all the issues people are concerned about but in a way that's economically responsible, not symbolic or reckless.
Patrick Murphy: National Geographic named Miami as the number one city in the world to be impacted by climate change. Senator Rubio said that he's not a scientist. Senator, you don't need to be a scientist.
Look out your window, right? There's two or three inches of salt water on the roads right now. They were not built under water. Go down to the Florida Keys. The reefs are dying from acidification and bleaching.
Come to my district. You'll see the algae. You'll see what's happening there. It's the most biologically diverse estuary in the whole country.
Go to the panhandle. You'll see the oyster beds dying. Everywhere I go in Florida I see the effects of this.
Senator Rubio denies science.
Marco Rubio: I'm sorry. He cited two water examples that have nothing to do with the rising seas.
On the issue of Apalachicola, that's because Georgia is stealing our water, so we're going to make them give us our water and Georgia is going to pay for it and the second thing is on Lake Okeechobee, the problem is that nutrient rich water, over 90% of the water going to Lake Okeechobee is going from the north of that lake into that lake, and that's what's creating those serious issues.
None of those have anything to do with rising sea levels, but you're neither a scientist nor a CPA.
Nancy Alvarez: Let's move on. You actually mentioned your father's company briefly earlier. Republicans have referred to you as, quote, privileged Patrick. As someone who's benefited from a financially secure upbringing, how can you relate to and address the concerns of the working poor and the struggling working class in Florida?
Patrick Murphy: Yes. You see, it's important that everyone knows who my dad is, because I believe an attack on my dad is actually an attack on the American Dream.
My dad never graduated college. He was a union carpenter, and a union laborer, and he worked his butt off every single day, and he taught me the value of hard work since very early on.
My first job wasn't in an air conditioned office. My first job was as a day laborer, digging holes and pouring concrete, and I never forgot the value of hard work.
Something my opponent, Marco Rubio, did forget, and it's shameful to me that we have a Senator with one foot out the door, who will not even show up to work.
Think about what's at stake in this election.
We can do so much more, but you gotta show up to work. You gotta be there. You can't be in the pocket of the special interest groups.
My opponent, Marco Rubio, when he does show up, always votes with the Koch brothers. Time after time. He actually has a 98 percent score with the Koch brothers, these right‑wing special interest groups. So if we're going to be serious about solving problems, you gotta be willing to show up. You gotta be willing to get things done and work across the aisle, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
Marco Rubio: Well, first of all, let me say that not only have I worked hard, but I actually have something to show for my hard work and my time in public service. Going back to my time in the Florida legislature.
Today, property taxes in Florida are lower because of the work we did while I was speaker. Today, there are children's zones here in Orlando and in Liberty City, Florida, and in Jacksonville because of laws that we passed.
We reformed school curriculum in this state when I was speaker, and we did it without common core, and in my time in the U.S. Senate, time and again in the bills I've already talked about, the girls count act, senator, is a bipartisan law and it hasn't gotten a lot of reporting, but I wish it would have.
I leveraged U.D. Foreign Aid to pressure foreign countries to ensure that little girls have birth certificates so they're not trafficked into slavery. If we saved one little girl from slavery, that's meaningful work and that took a lot of work to accomplish.
You don't even have a single bill that you can cite that you've done like that.
Jonathan Karl: Marc Caputo.
Marc Caputo: Senator Rubio, you had told me earlier in the year that you opposed abortion for women who were infected with Zika even if it meant that they would give birth to seriously deformed children.
Your opponent used your words in an ad, and then you came out with your own Spanish language ad that said that his characterization was false.
And so I'm curious why you would have said that and what your position really is, if you could clarify it.
Marco Rubio: Well, first of all, his ad isn't just about Zika. He says he wants to take away reproductive rights from women. That's false. That's just not true.
Now, let me talk about the issue of abortion. On the issue of abortion, it's not an easy issue. Some people pretend that it is, I do not.
You talk about a 16‑year‑old young girl in a crisis pregnancy or a Zika case, people sometimes on my side of the debate act like that's just a no‑brainer. It isn't. It's a difficult and painful issue. It's also a difficult issue, by the way, because it involves two competing rights, the right of a woman to choose what to do with her body.
That is a real right, and I recognize that.
But in this case, there is another right, and that is the right of an unborn child to live, and as a policy maker, these two rights are now can in conflict and I have to choose which side am I going to err on and if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of life, and Marc, I understand that the vast majority of Americans and Floridians, perhaps, disagree with my view on this issue, but for me, this is not an issue of politics, it's something I feel deeply and passionately about.
I believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws and I respect the people that have reached a different conclusion on this issue, but this is how I passionately feel.
It's not political to me. If it was, I would take a poll and I know what the poll is going to say.
Here's what I do think is outrageous.
What I do think is extremist and outrageous is people like Patrick Murphy and Hillary Clinton who believe no abortions of any kind should be legal. They believe it should be legal to abort a child even up to the day before they are due to be born. They believe in partial birth abortion.
These are horrifying things that actually a vast of the majority of Americans think are wrong and what I don't understand is how come the media never points to these extremist positions on the other side of the debate.
Patrick Murphy: See, my opponent does not support a woman's right to choose in the case of rape, in the case of incest, or a mother infected with Zika.
My opponent went on to put his own political ideology in front of keeping our government open. Right? Supporting the defunding of Planned Parenthood instead of keeping our government open.
And if that's not bad enough, Senator Rubio supported legislation that became known as the Scarlet Letter. This is legislation that said a woman who wanted to put her child up for an adoption had to take out a newspaper ad and disclose her sexual history. Imagine a woman, victim of rape at her darkest moment, taking a newspaper ad to disclose her sexual history.
Do you regret that vote, senator?
Marco Rubio: Marc, you were around in Tallahassee when that vote passed, and people who covered it understand that vote had the vote of a bunch of democrats, including no one knew that's what the law would do because it was an error in the way it was drafted and it was immediately repealed, and Congressman this is the third time tonight that you imply that I don't respect women or condone the outrageous behavior that the nominee of my party or others may have conducted against women, Congressman, you're the one that posted a picture on Facebook of you groping a woman. That's inappropriate behavior.
So again, you look at my record, you look at the things that I've done.
Some of these issues are very difficult issues, but I do so with the utmost respect for others who have a different point of view.
Patrick Murphy: Let's just talk about Donald Trump again, right? I mean, think about who my opponent, Marco Rubio, has endorsed to be our next president. Bragging about sexually assaulting women. I don't need to hear a lecture from you on women's rights. You do not support a woman's right to choose.
When asked about equal pay for women, your quote was that it's a waste of time. Florida and women in Florida are paid about 85% of what a man makes for the same job, and you think that's a waste of time?
We can do more. We can do better.
And I believe that you've gotta show up to get these things done, and unfortunately, you haven't been there.
Marco Rubio: Congressman Murphy, the women in your office make 85% what the men do. So again, I don't know how you can stand here and accuse people of that.
You talk about the equal pay law. Of course I'm for equal pay for women. I have two girls that are 16 and 14 that in less than a decade will be in the workforce, and I would be outraged if they are good or better than a man and they're not being paid the same amount of money. The law you're talking about would have done nothing.
Let me tell you about what the law you're talking about would have done.
Suppose you're a small business or any business and you have two excellent employees and one is a woman and one is a man and the woman is much better and so another company tries to hire her away and you try to give her a raise to keep her.
You can't unless you give the man a raise under that law that you supported.
It has unintended consequences that would not have achieved parity in pay but would have had these consequences of making it very difficult for businesses to actually give raises to men and to women.
Jonathan Karl: Okay. I have a question to both of you. There's been a lot of question about the legitimacy of this election. Donald Trump has said this election is absolutely being rigged. He's talking not just about media coverage, but he's saying that precinct by precinct there is voter fraud throughout the country.
So my question to each of you is do you have faith in the democratic process in this state and in this country, and do you believe the voters of Florida should have faith in the results on November 8th, both of this race and of the presidential race?
Begin with you.
Marco Rubio: Absolutely. This election is not being rigged, and let me explain to you why it's not being rigged in Florida and why I hope he stops saying that. Why he should stop saying that. We have 67 counties in this state. Each of which conduct their own elections. I promise you there is not a 67‑county conspiracy to rig this election.
Second, the governor of the state of Florida is a Republican, who appoints the people that run the Division of Elections.
Third, there is ‑‑ there's no evidence behind any of this, and so this should not continue to be said, and do I believe people should have confidence?
And do I believe they should vote? Absolutely.
And let me tell you what, let me add to this, this is a state that literally has millions of people who came here because they couldn't vote in the nation of their birth. It would be a tragedy if they gave up their vote here as well.
Jonathan Karl: Congressman?
Patrick Murphy: Donald Trump said it himself. He's unhinged now. He's going to stop at nothing to try to gin up his ‑‑
Jonathan Karl: Unshackled was his term.
Patrick Murphy: Unshackled, unhinged. Really, who's counting at this point. I believe what sets us apart as a nation, one of the many things is that we do respect our election process, that we do have fair elections, where people are going to show up, and Senator Rubio and I are going to tell you all that we do, and we are going to accept the results of this election.
But unfortunately, you're still standing by Donald Trump's side, and that is shameful to me.
There is too much at stake and words matter when it's the presidential nominee.
Jonathan Karl: I want to get one last question. On the question of Cuba. Congressman Murphy, you have praised President Obama's opening to Cuba. Given the continued human rights abuses on the island, the lack of progress since the opening began, do you support lifting the U.D. Embargo on Cuba, yes or no? Would you vote to lift the embargo?
Patrick Murphy: Well, I do support the president's attempts to normalize relations with Cuba. And look, I have aunts and cousins that are Cuban. I remember every Christmas Eve talking about politics and Cuba. So I understand that this is a very personal issue for many people, and I respect my opponent's position on this.
But we've had over 50 years of a failed policy that hasn't worked.
Let's give, you know, Castro and the regime exactly what they fear the most, and that's capitalism, and C believe that we can turn that chapter and help the Cuban people, so C do support targeted sanctions on the bad actors in the Castro regime.
Jonathan Karl: 30 seconds.
Marco Rubio: Well, again I would say to you that I'm not against changes to policy towards Cuba. I'm against one‑sided changes to policy towards Cuba that makes all the concessions to them and asks for nothing in return. Here's how good the opening to Cuba is going.
It's going so well that now the Cubans have invited the Russians to open a military base 90 miles for our shores for the first time since the end of the Cold War.
Oppression is up. More people are in jail today than before this deal. All 57 of the people that were freed as a result of this deal have been re‑arrested at least once, and by the way, they are still harboring fugitives of American justice, including Joanne Chesimard, a cop killer.
This deal is not working out well except for anyone but Raul Castro.
Jonathan Karl: That is all the time we have for questions. We now turn to closing statements. Congressman Murphy, you're first.
Patrick Murphy: Thank you for moderating. Thank you all for being here. Thank you, Senator Rubio.
I'm proud of what I've accomplished over the past four years in the congress, proud of the cuts I was able to prevent to Medicare.
Proud of legislation I passed to ensure that we lower flood insurance rates, proud of the $2 billion I was able to help bring home for the Everglades and I'm going to continue to show up because I'm also proud of my 97% voting record.
You compare that to Marco Rubio, the worst voting record of any senator from Florida in nearly 50 years.
Right? One foot out the door. Florida deserves better. Think about what's at stake in this election. The U.S. Supreme court hangs in the balance. The majority in the Senate. Climate change has to be addressed, and my opponent still denies it. We have to support a woman's right to choose. We have to invest more in education, we have to invest more in infrastructure and I'm proud of the endorsements I received from the Orlando Sentinel to the Tampa Bay Times to the Sun Sentinel and let's note that two of those endorsed my opponent but they also agree that he is shirking his responsibilities and not showing up to be a senator from Florida, and I will.
Marco Rubio: Thank you, Congressman, and thank you all for this hour we've been here together. The hour has now passed, and you have yet to hear much of a record after four years in Congress for Congressman Murphy.
He talks about saving cuts to Medicare. He didn't save cuts to Medicare.
He signed on to a letter. If signing on to a letter, which, by the way, I signed on to as well two months before he did, but I haven't talked about that tonight because if signing on to a letter is the sign of an achievement today in Washington, well, that tells you everything you need to know about what's wrong with this place.
I'm honored to have served the people of Florida in the U.S. Senate. I want to continue to do so and I'm proud of what we achieved in our time there.
There's one in particular I'm very proud of and that's the work I did on behalf of some very important people, many of whom still live in this community.
They're from Puerto Rico. They had to serve in a segregated unit. They were given some of the most difficult assignments in Korea and in Vietnam, and no one ever recognized them for it, and I, along with my colleagues across the aisle, finally got them the congressional gold medal of honor, and I was proud to be there that day in the white house when the president signed that into law, just one more achievement.
Compare that to Patrick Murphy's record of doing absolutely nothing.
He says he's a full‑time Congressman. He has a part‑time no‑show record.
Jonathan Karl: That's all the time we have. Thank you for watching tonight. Thank you to our host, the University of Central Florida. Thank you to my colleagues, Greg Warmoth, Nancy Alvarez, Marc Caputo.
I'm Jonathan Karl with ABC News. Thank you, and good night.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.
Transcript of the U.S. Senate debate between Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep.…
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