Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio gave a bizarre warning that election drop boxes could be blown up, as he clashed with Democratic opponent, Rep. Val Demings, on abortion and guns in Tuesday night’s Florida Senate debate.
‘There’s a danger involved in dropboxes. People need to think about it,’ Rubio said. ‘Imagine if someone decides, “Oh there’s a drop box, I’m just going to put some explosive in it and blow it up and burn all of those ballots.” And now those votes don’t count at all.’
Demings, a congresswoman from Orlando and the city’s former chief of police, had called out Rubio, saying he ‘supports suppressing the right to vote,’ and pointed to Florida decreasing the number of drop boxes where voters can turn in their ballots.
‘Why do that? Particularly in certain areas, senator? Your job is to make sure that every person votes,’ Demings said on the Palm Beach County stage.
Rubio had argued that federal voting rights legislation backed by Democrats was overzealous.
‘It’s never been easier to vote,’ the Florida Republican said. ‘In Florida, you can now vote by mail for any reason. You can vote, for example, 10 days before the election, you can vote on Election Day.’
He added that the comparison to the ‘Jim Crow era,’ when people were murdered trying to cast ballots, was unfair.
‘I have been a Hispanic man my entire life,’ he added. ‘I’m a minority – I’ve never felt like producing an ID disadvantages my right to vote.’ At another point he said of Demings: ‘You have to ask for ID to get into her neighborhood.’
He railed against drop boxes asking why ‘all of a sudden a drop box is the standard by which we judge whether people are being allowed to vote or not.’
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) gave a bizarre warning that election drop boxes could be blown up, as he clashed with Democratic opponent, Rep. Val Demings (right), on abortion and guns in Tuesday night’s Florida Senate debate
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) greets Rep. Val Demings (right), his Democratic challenger, ahead of their Tuesday night Senate debate in Palm Beach County, Florida
Sen. Marco Rubio (right) kisses his wife Jeanette Christina Dousdebes Rubio (left) before Tuesday’s Florida Senate debate in Palm Beach County
Rubio’s argument against drop boxes quickly went viral, however other parts of the debate produced more heat.
Demings whacked Rubio early on after he criticized Democrats’ pandemic aid spending, saying it created the high inflation of today.
‘Of course the senator, who has never run anything at all, but his mouth, would know nothing about helping people and being there for people when they are in trouble,’ Demings said.
Rubio hit back, saying Democrats were ‘sitting at home in the house, they were in their pajamas, doing Zoom calls,’ while Republicans were in the Capitol working on things like the Paycheck Protection Program.
To Demings, Rubio accused her of never passing a bill as a sponsor.
‘I’m really disappointed in you, Marco Rubio, because I think there was a time when you did not lie in order to win,’ Demings responded, pointing to a bill she helped get passed that provided law enforcement with mental health programs, she said.
‘There is not a single federal law on the books that she sponsored and got passed. Not one. I think she named two post offices,’ Rubio shot back.
Demings then went at Rubio again.
‘The senator has obviously resorted to lying, cheating and trying to steal,’ she said – before pointing out the merits of naming post offices. ‘I think honoring a police officer who was killed in the line of duty is everything, senator.’
Rubio objected, saying that he didn’t say that it didn’t matter. ‘I said that’s all she’s done.’
‘How gullible do you think Florida voters are, sir,’ Demings yelled – using the line several times during the hour-long event.
On the issue of abortion, Rubio was asked if he would vote for a 15-week federal ban, with no exceptions, as he’s expressed that he didn’t believe exceptions should be included in abortion laws in the past.
Rubio said he was ‘100 percent pro-life’ but said every abortion bill he’d voted for included exceptions ‘because that’s what can pass and that’s what the majority of people support.’
Abortion ban exceptions generally include for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
‘The extremist on abortion in this campaign is Congresswoman Demings,’ he claimed.
Demings said Rubio was ‘clear’ he supported no exceptions.
‘As a police detective who investigated cases of rape and incest, no senator I don’t think it’s OK for a girl to be raped and have to carry the seed of her rapist,’ Demings said. ‘No I don’t think it’s OK for you to make decisions for women and girls.’
Demings said decisions on abortion should be between ‘the woman, her family, her doctor and her faith.’ And said when Rubio suggested she supported abortion up until the time of birth, he was making the life of the mother a ‘side issue.’
The two lawmakers also tussled over gun control.
‘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?’ Demings asked Rubio.
The Republican said he was resistant to some gun laws because he said they’d be ineffective.
‘Denying them the right to buy it is not going to keep them from getting them from doing that,’ Rubio said at one point, when asked if he’d support raising the age of purchase for some firearms.
‘What makes no sense is that we’re going to actually pass laws that only law abiding people will follow,’ he also said.
Both candidates were also asked if they’d adhere to the results of the election.
Demings never gave a straight answer, instead saying she took an oath as a police officer.
‘I took an oath that I would protect and serve defend the Constitution. Not just for people who looked like me, or the richest of the rich, but for all people,’ Demings said.
When it was Rubio’s turn he said he ‘never denied an election.’
‘I’m not like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, denied her election,’ he said, garnering laughs from the crowd.
He made no mention of former President Donald Trump and his false election fraud claims.
When asked again he’d support the results of the 2022 election, Rubio answered in the affirmative.
‘Sure because I’m going to win, I look forward to supporting that,’ he said. ‘But yes, no matter what the outcome is I’ll support it because Florida has good laws,’ he confirmed.