The Florida Senate debate became heated Tuesday as the two candidates in the race – incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat Rep. Val Demings – took turns taking jabs at one another over their views on abortion.
Asked whether he would support a federal ban on abortion with “no exceptions” if he is re-elected on November 8, Rubio, who’s seeking a third six-year term in the Senate, said, “You talk about Lindsey Graham’s bill. That’s a four-month ban. The extremist on abortion in this campaign is Congresswoman Demings. She supports no restrictions, no limitations of any kind. She’s against the fourth-month ban, she voted against the five-month ban. She supports taxpayer funded abortion, on demand, for any reason, at any time, up until the moment of birth.”
“Senator, how gullible do you really think Florida voters are,” Demings responded. “You have been clear that you support no exceptions, even including rape and incest. Now as a police detective who investigated cases of rape and incest, no, senator, I don’t think it’s okay for a ten-year-old girl to be raped and have to carry the seed of her rapist. No, I don’t think it’s okay for you to get to make decisions for women and girls as a senator. I think those decisions are made between the woman, her family, her doctor, and her faith.”
Demings, who currently represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District and served as Orlando police chief from 2007 to 2011, said she “supports a woman’s right to choose up until the time of viability.”
Pressed once more on whether he would support a federal abortion ban, Rubio noted that he is “interested in saving human lives” and suggested than an outright ban on abortion in America would never pass.
“Every law I’ve ever passed has exceptions,” Rubio said. “We’re never gonna get a vote on a law that doesn’t have exceptions cause that’s where the majority of the American people are and I respect and understand that.”
Rubio concluded his statement by pressing the moderator to ask Demings what limits she supports on abortion.
“We are not going back senator, no matter how obsessed you are with a woman’s body and her right to choose,” Demings said. “We are not going back to a time when women are treated like second-class citizens or like property. And I’ll say it again… I support a woman’s right to abortion right up to the time of viability.”
“When is that? That’s just a vague line that they all give,” Rubio responded.
The debate was held at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus.
According to poll of likely voters conducted by Spectrum News/Siena College in September, Rubio leads Demings 48% to 41%.
Fox News’ Power Rankings rates the Florida Senate race as “lean Republican.”
Rubio and Demings will go head-to-head in the Sunshine State’s November 8 midterm election.