Republican Florida Senate seat showdown with Carlos Beruff in the race

Sarasota businessman holds town hall at Orlando Pizzeria

We know winning an election is about name recognition and some people think for Florida's Senate seat, Marco Rubio has the advantage. But Thursday at a town hall inside Gitto's Pizzeria in downtown Orlando, businessman Carlos Beruff told News 6 this election is an easy sell.

"If I'm fortunate enough to be your senator, I'm a two-term senator," Beruff said as he opened his town hall. "If you can't fix a lot of things in 12 years, that's three presidential terms, then you are a shmuck and you should get someone else to do the job."

And Beruff told the crowd of about 20 he wants them to hire him, the Sarasota homebuilder taking on the theme of this election so far, of a businessman running for office.

"If you don't send people with practical, real-life experience to Washington to deal with problems we have and you keep sending people that don't understand what a balance sheet looks like that can't even sign the front of a paycheck, they are incapable. It's not that they don't want to but they don't have the skills to do it and that's what we got in Washington, lots and lots of them," he said.

Beruff came into Orlando just hours after landing from Cleveland, where we went to the Republican National Convention as a strong supporter of Donald Trump, slamming Rubio for not doing the same. Instead, Rubio was in Orlando visiting with businesses affected after the Pulse shooting.

"Well he's looking at the political winds and puts the finger up in the wind to see where the wind is blowing and that's how politicians do, businessmen don't work like that, we make a decision and we go," Beruff said of his opponent.

And in regards to Rubio visiting the businesses near Pulse, Beruff says, "It's such a sad terrorist event. It's a heartbreaking experience for Floridians and for it to be turned into a political playbook, I won't do it."

Many voters inside Gitto's Pizzeria have already back Beruff.

"We really need a good senator that could take care of us, that will show up for committee meetings," said one voter. "When [Rubio] says he's going to endorse the nominee of the Republican Party he needs to do that and I think it's very sad that he hasn't done that and I think it's time to give Carlos Beruff the opportunity."

But while voters supported Beruff inside, protesters were against him outside. A group dressed up and with gas masks on protested against Beruff's company's alleged involvement in using hazardous Chinese drywall.

"Carlos Beruff does not belong in the Senate," said protester Kim Carroll. "If he can't take care of problems here in Florida, in his own backyard, problems he created why should we put him in the Senate to take care of major problems?"

In a statement Beruff's Communications Director Chris Harline responded to the protesters with this:

"Carlos is proud of his business experience. It's clear that Marco Rubio can't defend his own record of not showing up for work, except when he broke his promise and supported amnesty for illegal immigrants."

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