ORLANDO (CBSMiami) – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio faced off against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in a one-hour debate in Orlando Monday night.
The presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump quickly overshadowed the debate at the University of Central Florida.
“Sen. Rubio, how do you look yourself in the mirror and still stand buy Donald’s trump’s side after everything that’s come out about him?”
Just minutes into this first senate debate, Donald Trump was the main topic.
Rubio tried throughout the night to frame himself as an independent thinker.
“I don’t trust either one of them, and the job of a U.S. senator is not to blindly trust a president because they happen to be from your own party,” he said.
And Rubio tied Murphy to Clinton.
“I don’t trust Hillary Clinton with classified information, she has proven she cannot handle it and would expose it o foreign intelligence agents has she has,” Rubio said.
The two spared on issues that have dogged each of them the entire campaign.
“It’s shameful to me that we have a senator with one foot out the door who will not even show up to work. We gotta do so much more, but you’ve gotta show up to work,” Murphy said of his Republican competitor.
Rubio called Murphy in-effective and saying he exaggerated his work and school history.
“Have you misled Floridians about your experience and qualifications?” the moderator asked Murphy.
“Absolutely not,” he responded. “The last six attacks that Marco Rubio and his special interest friends have lobbed at me have all been debunked, labeled as false.”
Rubio went on the offensive again, saying, “If I may, those are not my attacks, that’s the reporting of CBS4 in Miami and Jim DeFede, one of the most respected and I would say feared investigative reporters in the state.”
Both Murphy and the moderator tried to pin down Rubio on his plans for the future.
“Are you promising to fill all six years of your term?” the moderator asked.
“I’m going to serve in the senate for the next six years – that’s God willing,” he said.
The talk then circled back to Trump.
Moderators asked Rubio if he agrees with Trump, who says the elections are rigged.
“This election is not being rigged,” he said. “We have 67 counties in this state, each of which conducts their own elections. I promise there is not a 67 county conspiracy to rig this election.”
Students on campus realize what is at stake in this race.
“Especially with our new election of new president, he’s going to or she’s going to need a Senate or a House that’s going to work with them or be an obstacle in the upcoming election,” said student Matt Cohen.