TALLAHASSEE, FL (The News Service of Florida) - U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio reaffirmed support Tuesday for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying he doesn't want Democrat Hillary Clinton to win the White House.
Democrats were quick to label the comment by Rubio, who is seeking re-election, as "self-serving."
Some prominent Republicans have backed away from supporting Trump amid a furor that began Friday when The Washington Post posted a 2005 video that showed Trump making lewd and sexually aggressive comments about women. But Rubio, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination this year, said he has a bigger aversion to Clinton becoming president.
"I ran against Donald Trump. And while I respect that voters chose him as the GOP nominee, I have never hesitated to oppose his policies I disagree with," Rubio said in a statement. "And I have consistently rejected his offensive rhetoric and behavior. I disagree with him on many things, but I disagree with his opponent on virtually everything.
"I wish we had better choices for president. But I do not want Hillary Clinton to be our next president. And therefore my position has not changed."
Trump's comments were recorded while he was preparing for a segment on the television show "Access Hollywood."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who chairs a super PAC backing the Republican nominee, said Saturday that Trump's comments were "wrong" but stopped short of condemning the Republican presidential hopeful.
Trump, who has trailed Clinton among women voters, initially issued a statement on Friday in which he "apologized if anyone was offended."
He later released a 90-second video, apologizing and calling the 2005 tape a "distraction." During the presidential debate Sunday night, Trump called the taped conversation "locker-room banter."
In each reaction, Trump accused Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, of doing worse.
After the 2005 tape was posted, Rubio tweeted on Friday that "Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private."
The lack of other comments from Rubio drew his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, to challenge the Republican front-runner Monday to "withdraw his support for Trump or withdraw from the race."
After Rubio responded on Tuesday, Murphy retorted that "Marco Rubio stands for nothing but his own pursuit of power."
The Florida Democratic Party went further, calling Rubio a "shameless coward" and the statement "self-serving."
“(Rubio) stands with a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said in a prepared statement. "He stands with a man who mocks people with disabilities and threatens to jail political opponents. He stands with a man who has embraced racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. How can Floridians expect Marco Rubio to stand up for them when he can't even stand up for what he believes?"
Polls in recent months have shown Rubio leading Murphy in the high-profile race, which could help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. A University of North Florida poll released Tuesday showed Rubio up by 7 points on Murphy.