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Activists deliver box of flip-flops to Marco Rubio’s Tampa district office

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

If Marco Rubio and his staffers in Tampa and Miami decide to hit the beach this holiday weekend, they’ll be well stocked in footwear.

Activists in both cities descended up the Florida senator’s district offices today to deliver a boxful of flip-flop sandals to his office, an obvious reference to his decision last week to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, after telling everyone for over a year that he was done with that institution.

“We just wanted to highlight these issues that he’s reversed his positions on,” said Melissa Meehan Baldwin with For Our Future, a liberal super PAC. “There’s a lot of issues that we care a lot about: immigration reform, (the) Puerto Rican debt crises, climate change, and we really want a senator who’s here to represent the people, not focused on his political campaign. And we feel that when he flip flops on those issues, that he’s doing so for his political career, vs. doing the things that are really want Florida citizens need. ”

Receiving the box of beach footwear was Ashley Cook, Gulf Coast Regional Director for Rubio, who said that the office would donate them to New Beginnings, an organization that helps the homeless in Tampa.

“So we thank you for bringing them by and glad we’re able do some good with them,” she told the handful of activists, who were joined by about five members of the media to the senator’s offices in the Westshore District.

Returning to run again for the senate is not the first time Rubio has been accused of flip-flopping. Most notably has been the issue of immigration reform, something that Ana Lamb, the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 7250, reminded Cook of on Friday.

Rubio was part of a group of GOP senators who supported legislation supporting comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, but later turned against the proposal.

Lamb said she and others in the Latino advocacy community never bought into how sincereRubio was in the first place in being a member of the “Gang of 8” senators of both parties who put together the proposal, which was approved in the Senate but never came up for a vote in the House of Representatives.

“We tried to talk to him in Washington, but he never wanted to say anything other than to the media that he was supporting that bill, ” she recounts about LULAC’s lack of access to him in 2013. “He wasn’t listening to us… there were groups like ours trying to talk to him and we couldn’t. It seemed he was caught in the middle.”

Other activists who attended the march to Rubio’s office also said they were extremely disappointed in his support of the Republican party’s standard bearer, Donald Trump.

Rubio told CNN’s Jake Tapper in May that while he didn’t back away from his criticisms of Trump during the campaign – which included  calling him a “con man” and saying he shouldn’t be given access to nuclear codes – but added that he would not become his “chief critic,” saying that “he deserves the opportunity to go forward and make his argument and try to win.” He has not formally endorsed him, however.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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