A planned, televised U.S. Senate debate between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic candidate, Rep. Patrick Murphy, has been canceled because Murphy would not agree to debate in Spanish.
According to an email from Univision Miami, a Spanish-language broadcaster, Rubio wanted to debate in Spanish, but Murphy’s team would only agree to a debate in English with dubbing in Spanish for the channel’s Hispanic audience. Murphy is not fluent in Spanish, but Rubio is, thanks to his Cuban heritage.
According to an email cited by the Miami Herald/Times, Univison had proposed a true Spanish-language debate. “The debate will be in Spanish,” reads the email. “Spanish-language questions will be translated to English for Congressman Murphy and English language answers from the Congressman will be translated to Spanish for the viewers.”
Rubio’s campaign accused Murphy of “blowing off” the debate, but Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said a debate in Spanish “has never been used in a statewide debate in Florida and would not allow for a vibrant exchange of ideas between the
Murphy agreed to the debate a month later than Rubio but his campaign claimed that “Patrick has always felt that Florida’s Senate election should include a Spanish-language debate.”
Rubio’s campaign capitalized on Murphy’s withdrawal, criticizing his voting record in support of Florida’s Latino community, but Karp went on the offensive, telling the Herald/Times, “We’re committed to making the debate happen, so for Senator Rubio to throw these kinds of misleading accusations around is very disappointing. It seems like he doesn’t want to debate in front of a Spanish-language audience, something Patrick Murphy is committed to doing.If anyone’s left the negotiating table, it’s Senator Rubio’s team.”