(ORLANDO) — Republican Marco Rubio is expected to keep his seat as the senior senator of Florida as polls project him to defeat his Democrat opponent, Val Demings.
During the Senate debate on Oct. 18, Demings challenged Rubio on his stance on abortion rights, accusing the two-term senator of supporting “no exceptions” to abortion bans and often changing his stance.
“He can make his mouth say anything today,” Demings said. “He is good at that, by the way. What day is it and what is Marco Rubio saying?”
Demings also accused Rubio of not doing enough to support legislation that would prevent shootings, including those at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018.
Rubio argued that some proposals for gun restrictions would not have stopped many of the mass shootings, evoking the Second Amendment and Americans’ right to protect themselves.
“Every one of these shooters would have passed the background check that she keeps insisting on,” Rubio said of Demings. “No one here is in favor of mass shootings and violence.”
During the debate, Rubio criticized federal spending, partly blaming pandemic relief funds and said that the country needs to boost domestic oil production. He also accused Demings of accomplishing little in terms of passing legislation during her time in Washington and criticized her for supporting President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“In the two terms I’ve been there, no U.S. senator has gotten more done than I have,” Rubio said. “The only thing she does is vote 100% with Pelosi.”
Rubio began serving in the Senate in 2011 after defeating Charlie Crist, then governor of Florida. He has served as the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2021 and previously served as chair of the Senate Small Business Committee from January 2019 to February 2021.
Demings, who has served as the U.S. representative from Florida’s 10th Congressional District in Orlando since 2017, announced last year that she would run against Rubio for his Senate seat. The three-term congresswoman was also the chief of the Orlando Police Department for 18 years.
Demings was one of about a dozen women Biden considered as his pick for vice president. She also served as one of seven House managers at former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
The Senate has had no Black women serving as senators since the departure of Vice President Kamala Harris.
ABC News’ Meg Cunningham contributed to this report.
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