Rubio vs. Demings: Everything you need to know

TV ads, bilingual flyers, door-to-door campaigning, and lots of public appearances.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is seeking a third term, and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Val Demings, have done it all ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Demings has focused her campaign on protecting abortion rights, stricter gun laws and and fighting crime. 

As a former chief of police in Orlando, she has distanced herself from progressives in her own party who have called for cutting funding for law enforcement. “Defunding the police: That’s just crazy,” Demings says in one of her ads. 

She has also touted her support of abortion rights and sharply criticized her Republican opponent for backing legislation to ban the procedure after 15 weeks. 

“As a woman, a mother, a woman of faith, and a former law enforcement officer, I am furious and I am disappointed but I have not despaired,” she says. “I am ready to fight. We won’t go back.” 

Abortion was a central point of disagreement when the candidates held their only debate on Oct. 18 at Palm Beach State College. 

They repeatedly criticized each other, while trying to get their messages across in a heated back-and-forth that lasted an hour. 

Demings asked if Rubio he would support a federal abortion ban with no exceptions, and Rubio responded that every measure he has ever backed to limit abortions has had exceptions. 

Demings also charged that Rubio has not done enough to prevent mass shootings. 

“How long will you watch people being gunned down in first grade, fourth grade, high school, college, church, synagogue, grocery store, movie theater, a mall and a nightclub and do nothing?” Demings said. 

Rubio responded, “Everything she is for would have done nothing to stop any of those shootings. Every one of these shooters would have passed the background check that she keeps insisting on.” 

For his part, Rubio has focused his campaign on the economy and immigrantion, calling for securing the southern U.S. border and bringing down inflation. 

Both candidates have used a variety of platforms to get their messages across, including flyers, youtube videos, and TV advertisements. 

According to the most recent reports, Rubio’s campaign has spent $15 million on TV commercial ads out of his $36 million raised, while Demings, who has raised more money than the Republican senator, has used $12 million out of her $41.9 million.  

Rubio currently holds a seven percentage advantage over Demings, 49.6% to 42.2%, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls in the race.

Rubio, who is of Cuban heritage, has also tried to appeal to Hispanic voters, translating his campaign website to Spanish and he has released bilingual ads. Demings has not. Support for the candidates is evenly split among Hispanic voters at 45%

On the campaign trail, both candidates frequently share their personal stories about having been raised by parents who worked minimum wage jobs, such as maids and bartenders. 

Rubio often talks about the American Dream and what it meant to his parents when they immigrated to Miami from Cuba in 1956. This led him to pursue politics, he says, with one objective: “Bring the American Dream back into the reach of those who feel it slipping away.” 

Val Demings at an Emily List office visit / photo courtesy of Flickr

Demings grew up with six siblings in a small wood-framed home in Jacksonville. Her parents instilled in her their version of the American Dream: “Work hard and play by the rules. Have faith.” 

Angela Rivas is a Miami native majoring in Journalism and minoring in Criminal Justice. She has a passion for writing and dreams of becoming a journalist telling stories about our world.

Relany Varela is a communications major at FIU. She enjoys playing guitar, reading and going to the beach.