FL Senate Debate Cancelled After Rubio's Challenger Demands It Be Held in English

Zach Montanaro | October 21, 2016
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Univision has cancelled a debate between Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) and his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, because the two campaigns couldn’t agree to the conditions for the debate -- namely, Murphy wouldn’t agree to the debate being conducted in Spanish.

In an email from Univision to the Rubio campaign, the network laid out the early terms of the debate: “The debate will be in Spanish. 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.”

Murphy, however, apparently wanted the debate to be spoken in English and then translated into Spanish, as some debates on Univision have done in the past.

Rubio, a Cuban-American, is fluent in Spanish and would most likely have spoken Spanish during the entire debate, as he has in past Spanish-speaking debates. Murphy, however, doesn’t speak Spanish.

According to the Miami Herald, both campaigns have accepted invitations to the event, but never fully finalized the details. Rubio had accepted the invitation a month ago, while Murphy only accepted last week.

Rubio’s campaign quickly pounced, saying that Murphy was “blowing off” the debate and claiming that Murphy doesn’t have a record defending Florida’s Hispanic residents, and instead simply uses talking points.

Murphy’s campaign, on the other hand, claims that an English-speaking debate would “ensure a fair playing field for both candidates,” and that they were still committed to making the debate happen.

“For Senator Rubio to throw these kinds of misleading accusations around is very disappointing,” a Murphy campaign spokesman said.

Earlier in the day, a Univision spokesman sent Politico an email claiming the debate was still on, saying, “The debate will be in Spanish and will have a translator for Murphy."

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