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Rubio and Demings spar over inflation and abortion in fiery debate in Florida Senate

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Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings dueled Tuesday night over inflation, abortion rights and immigration in what is expected to be their only pre-election debate.

The hour-long debate, held at Palm Beach State College, was punctuated by continued interruptions and insults as the candidates each criticized each other’s legislative records on Capitol Hill.

“Of course the senator who has never done anything but his mouth would know nothing about helping people and being there for people when they are in trouble,” Demings said, referring to widespread GOP opposition to the $1 bill last year. .9 trillion US bailout from President Joe Biden Plan.

Rubio, who hopes to secure a third term in the Senate, argues that Demings has accomplished little since she was first elected to the House in 2016.

“The congresswoman likes to talk about helping people. She’s never passed a bill, she’s never passed a bill,” Rubio said, highlighting his two-pronged achievements on things like poisonous fire pits legislation.

“I have a record of not just identifying the problems, but solving them,” he said.

sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will participate in a debate with Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., at Duncan Theater on the Palm Beach State College campus in Palm Beach County, Florida.Thomas Cordy / Pool / The Palm Beach Post via AP

Heading into the debate, Demings had Rubio focused on abortion, an issue Democrats across the country have highlighted to boost turnout in November. Demings continued that offensive line Tuesday night.

“We’re not going back, Senator, no matter how obsessed you are with a woman’s body and her right to choose,” she said. “We are not going back to a time when women are treated as second-class citizens or as property.”

When asked if he would vote for a federal abortion ban, Rubio dodged the question by saying he didn’t think the situation would materialize.

“I’m interested in saving lives, which is why every law has exceptions,” Rubio said. “We will never vote on a law that has no exceptions.”

Rubio has supported various forms of abortion bans over the years, some with exceptions and some without.

Rep.  Val Demings, D-Fla., participates in a televised debate with Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at Duncan Theater on the Palm Beach State College campus in Palm Beach County, Florida, on Tuesday, Oct. 10.  18, 2022.
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., participates in a debate Tuesday with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., at Duncan Theater on the campus of Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach County, Florida.Thomas Cordy / Pool / The Palm Beach Post via AP

When he went on the offensive, Rubio blamed the Democrats for the high inflation and suggested that Demings and her Democratic colleagues had ignored warnings from economists who had claimed that checks designed to help support Americans in the financial challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, later “fueling inflation.”

As for gas costs, Rubio seemed to refer to the Biden administration’s sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by saying, “We are depleting our reserves. Our oil reserves are not there to win by-elections, they are there to help this country in an emergency or in the middle of a storm.”

Demings, who faces an uphill battle in a state that former President Donald Trump won in 2016 and 2020 and where rrecent polls indicated that she follows Rubio, took the opportunity at one point in the debate to highlight her humble upbringing as the daughter of a maid and janitor, and later served as a police officer who rose through the ranks to become chief.

“Only in America is my story possible,” she said. “I happen to believe that everyone, no matter who they are, deserves the chance to succeed, deserves the chance to make it.”

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