During a South Florida town hall stop Saturday, U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson called for Republicans to pass President Barack Obama’s $1.1 billion Zika bill before the virus spreads further.
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“This is not just a problem for today or a problem for tomorrow,” Grayson told the crowd of around 60, “it’s a problem for the next 80 years.”
Grayson, a Democratic congressman, mentioned the two deaths attributed to the Zika virus — a travel-related case in Utah and one in Puerto Rico — and warned that without swift government action the virus could claim more lives.
“It’ll go from Miami to Fort Lauderdale,” he said. “And probably within a matter of just a few months — in Orlando, my home district.”
The president is right, Grayson told the audience of supporters, and his billion dollar bill hasn’t been passed because Republicans are “picking and picking and picking at it while people die.”
He offered the crowd, clustered in the ballroom of the Stadium Hotel in Miami Gardens, tips on home mosquito control, including wearing bug repellent, overturning containers with standing water and fixing screens.
The rest of the event was filled with questions from a friendly audience whose main quarrel with Grayson was that he didn’t fight back against attacks hard enough.
Grayson is locked in a heated Democratic primary battle with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, both seeking the Senate seat now held by Republican Marco Rubio.
One audience member brought up the allegations of spousal abuse leveled against Grayson recently, which he called “nonsense dredged up from literally 20 years ago.” The supporter challenged him to reject the accusations more forcefully.
The abusive spouse was not him, Grayson told the crowd, but his wife. She hit him, he said, and told police Grayson hit her.
“That’s what happens when mommy hits daddy and then also hits the children and tries to have them arrested,” he said. “It’s a tragedy and it’s been exploited ruthlessly by Patrick Murphy.”
Grayson also criticized the government response to the local Zika virus transmission in Wynwood. He acknowledged the difficulties of spraying residential areas, but said the spraying needs to be street by street.
“It’s clearly not enough,” he said. “This is now imminent.”