ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday visited several family-owned businesses affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Rubio met with businesses along Orange Avenue that were impacted by the attack, including several that lost money when the area was shut down during the investigation.
Business owner Daniel Broyles of Foreign Accents Home Decor says they lost nearly half of their sales in the month of June. But he said it's better to take the financial hit than take out a small business loan offered after the attack.
"We don't want to take a loan and you just bite the bullet now," said Broyles. "And do what you want to do and get you through it."
But Rubio said he doesn't want the businesses to bite that bullet, saying he wants to take the money raised for Pulse victims and funnel some of it to the businesses.
"One of the arguments we want to make to them is some of that funding should be made available to those small businesses that were impacted over the course of those 30 days which during the period of times the streets were closed and customers just couldn't get access to the area," Rubio told News 6.
As Rubio met with businesses and media inside, outside of the event, dozens of protesters filled the sidewalks.
"This is the same senator that used the Pulse tragedy to run for office. Meanwhile he continues to accept the endorsements of the NRA and homophobic organizations," protester Anna Eskamani said. "Enough is enough and Orlando is rising."
Inside, Rubio addressed them.
"I want to be frank, some of these groups are paid protesters and they are paid to doing this sort of thing it doesn't make their point illegitimate i just honestly don't believe that whatever it is they are screaming for would have prevented this attack from happening," Rubio said. "My only problem with the bills I voted against is what if you are on the list wrongfully? There has been instances and there have been people on the list wrongfully. I just want to show there is a cost and effective way to get their name off the list and those bills didn't provide that due process."
Rubio then brought the focus back onto why he was in Orlando, saying within the next couple of days he's going to work with the FBI to help get the assistance to those affected as soon as possible, including those small businesses as well.