FLORIDA, October 19, 2022–The word “liar” was tossed out a few times, along with plenty of other tough language as Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and his Democratic opponent, U.S. Representative Val Demings, met on the debate stage in a heated matchup Tuesday night on the campus of Palm Beach State College.
“Demings often was on the offensive as she tries to unseat a two-term incumbent and shakeup a race where polls show her lagging, in a state that increasingly has trended red,” wrote the
A practiced debater, Rubio deflected on some hot-button issues, such as abortion, and tried to ignore others as he sought to avoid major missteps in the home stretch. Here are five takeaways from the debate.
“We would have had a meltdown in this country, we saved millions of small businesses.” Rubio said. “If we had not done that there would have been a depression in this country,” added Rubio.
Demings kept wagging and pointing her finger in Rubio’s direction throughout the debate, and addressing him directly and, at times, emotionally, such as when she accused him of doing nothing to prevent gun violence.
Demings then dismissed Rubio’s accomplishments, notably the Paycheck Protection Program, which gave money to businesses forced to close during the pandemic.
The second half of the debate kicked off with a question about the Biden administration invoking a Trump-era policy known as Title 42 to deny Venezuelan migrants from requesting asylum at the U.S. border.
Many Venezuelan migrants live in Florida, where they have relocated after fleeing the oppressive regime of Nicolas Maduro. They are a growing voting bloc in the state, and Rubio argued “No one has done more on the issue of Venezuela than I have and Cuba and Nicaragua.”
He added that “I sympathize deeply” with those migrants, but added that “there is no country that can permit or afford 5,000 people a day arriving at your border and sing the magic words and getting asylum.”
Rubio then accused Demings of not acknowledging the crisis on the southern border with Mexico.
Asked about solutions to solving the crisis, Demings said “we need to make sure that the men and women at the borders have the resources that they need.”
“I am a fan of boots on the ground,” she added without any specifics.
Rubio fired back that Democrats and Demings “demonize” the U.S. Border Patrol.
That angered Demings: “Who demonized?”
Said Rubio: “You have.”
“That’s a lie,” Demings responded.