Anti-Trump group targets Rubio with $450,000 ad buy in Florida on Supreme Court

Francesca Chambers
·4 min read

Republican senators who previously opposed the nomination of a Supreme Court justice during an election year, yet support the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, are the latest target in a contentious confirmation battle.

Advertisments set to run Tuesday that are funded by Republicans for the Rule of Law — a project of the anti-Trump group Defending Democracy Together — will remind voters of GOP senators’ objections in 2016 to Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination by former President Barack Obama.

The spots say that Republicans such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio “blocked” a new Supreme Court justice four years ago, saying that the American people deserved to have their voices heard.

“In the last year of a president’s term, there should not be a Supreme Court nominee,” Rubio says in a clip used in one of the commercials.

Republicans for the Rule of Law founder Sarah Longwell said the group is spending $450,000 in Florida on the commercial.

The advertisement’s narrator says over footage that includes a hospitalized elderly man and coughing child, “Now days before the election, Rubio supports rushing through a new judge, but refuses to pass COVID relief to help struggling families and businesses in Florida.”

The ads end by asking viewers to call their senators and urge them to pass coronavirus relief legislation. “Senator Marco Rubio is letting Florida down,” says the narrator in the ad that is slated to run in Florida.

That advertisement is running through Sunday in Miami, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

Versions of the ad are also running against Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in Madison and Milwaukee—where the group is spending $280,000—and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport—where the airtime purchase was for $170,000.

Advertisements will also run in Ohio and Texas on Facebook and YouTube beginning Tuesday. The ad spending is $50,000 in each state and targets Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

None of the senators in any of the advertisements are currently up for reelection.

Grassley and Cruz are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plans to vote on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday.

Longwell said the commercials are meant to hold accountable lawmakers who vocally opposed Garland after Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court in an election year.

“They were explicit in their desire for people to have a voice,” Longwell said. “And at that point you were still months and months out from an election versus days and days.”

Rubio’s office declined to comment. However, the senator last month disputed comparisons of Garland’s nomination process to the current one.

The Florida senator said that Republicans were not going to confirm Garland, because he did not fit the criteria of what they were seeking in a justice. He said that the election was a factor in that Obama was nearing the end of his second and final term as president.

“He’s not even coming back, he’s not even accountable to the voters. We’re not going to waste our time on a hearing for a nominee that in the end is not going to be confirmed,” Rubio said of their thinking at the time during an interview on “Fox & Friends” in September.

Rubio said of Barrett’s nomination, “This is a very different situation we have here right now. And this vacancy has occurred, the president has a constitutional, not right, obligation to nominate someone.”

Longwell told McClatchy that the ads targeting Rubio and others are reflective of the broader “frustration” that Republicans involved with her project have felt since President Donald Trump took office.

“What has been horrible about the last four years is just watching the Republican Party decide that it stands for nothing,” she said. “We want them to know that we noticed.”

Longwell said the advertisements are in line with the group’s mission to get the GOP to uphold the values that Republicans for the Rule of Law say are no longer being adhered to by party officials.

“We don’t want to be on this sort of constitutionally collision course that we’re on. Somebody has to start upholding the norms,” she said.