Voters in swing state Florida and the 'horrifying choice’

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, speaks to supporters as he stops to thank volunteers at a phone bank on the final day before the Florida primary election on Aug. 29, 2016 in Miami.
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, speaks to supporters as he stops to thank volunteers at a phone bank on the final day before the Florida primary election on Aug. 29, 2016 in Miami.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ricardo Garcia is the kind of voter Republicans need to turn out in November: he's a veteran, a small-business owner here and has reliably voted Republican in the past.

But this year, Garcia said he's probably going to vote for Hillary Clinton for president.

Over lunch at ZaZa New Cuban Diner in Orlando, Garcia said he's disappointed in his party for nominating Donald Trump. "They're backing a very abrasive personality," Garcia said. "It's not depicting what the Republican Party is."

Clinton has a narrow lead in Florida in some recent polls, but GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio was ahead of his Democratic challenger by as much as seven points before Monday's debate with Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. That makes it Rubio's challenge to capture Republican voters who are turned off by the top of the ticket.

Which is why Rubio — fresh off his presidential primary loss to Trump — called the election a "horrifying choice" between Trump and Clinton during the debate at the University of Central Florida.

"I'm not arguing here that this is a race between Abraham Lincoln and George Washington," Rubio said. "These are two deeply flawed candidates. Which is why it's so important as I've already said repeatedly that we have a candidate for the U.S. Senate that if elected will stand up to these people."

Ricardo Garcia, Republican voter
CNBC
Ricardo Garcia, Republican voter

The picture is not much better for Clinton's party. Even some traditional Democrats in Orlando say they aren't sure they can vote for her enthusiastically this year.

"I've never been on the fence before like I am this year," said James Berezo, who voted for President Barack Obama in the past two national elections. "If I had to vote today, I'd vote for Hillary Clinton."

And back at ZaZa's, there was some good news for Republicans. Even though Garcia is leaning toward Clinton, he said he knows for sure who he's going to vote for in the Senate campaign: "I think it's a no-brainer," Garcia said. "I think I'm going to be voting for Rubio."