Beginning today, thousands of (mostly white) people will gather in Cleveland, Ohio, to horribly embarrass themselves and our nation. They will argue that scientists are wrong about climate change, that gay people don't have the right to marry, and that Americans shouldn't be allowed to watch porn. And then they will nominate Donald Trump — Donald Trump! — to be president of the United States.
Florida's best and brightest political minds will be there, heaping that shame right back onto our proud state. Here's a quick guide to the Sunshine State natives who have nabbed prime speaking spots at the Republican National Convention this week:
Sen. Marco Rubio
Why Is He Speaking?
Rubio is perhaps America's foremost political opportunist. His entire career is a long performance art piece dedicated to catching the next rising political wave at the most opportune moment. When Jeb Bush was ascendent in Florida, Rubio was Jebber's most trusted young acolyte. When the Tea Party was burning down the GOP from within, he briefly became the face of the movement. And when it became clear that he could still win the Senate seat he had swore repeatedly not to run for after his presidential campaign, he flip-flopped right back into that race.
So you had better believe he wouldn't say no to the chance to speak to a national audience.
How Will He Embarrass Us?
During that disastrous run for the White House earlier this year, Rubio put himself in a bit of a tight corner with respect to Trump, the guy who will be officially nominated for president this week. There were all the speeches when Rubio called Trump a "con man," his repeated mantra that the Donald should never be entrusted with the nuclear codes, and, yes, that time he joked that Trump probably has a tiny penis.
Rubio has tacitly acknowledged that fact by declining to travel to Cleveland. Instead, he'll speak via video to the GOP convention.
Still, unless he takes the mike to blast Trump and insist that delegates go renegade, it'll be all but impossible for Rubio to come out of this not looking like a huge hypocrite. Which he is.
llustration by Allen Douglas
Attorney General Pam Bondi
Why Is She Going?
Bondi is a rising conservative star with her sights set way above Tallahassee. She's attractive, has a long TV resumé, and endeared herself to the right wing by being a leading legal opponent of Obamacare and gay marriage. She also hitched herself to the Trump train much earlier than most other Florida Republicans. If Trump wins the White House, she might just have a cabinet seat with her name on it.
How Will She Embarrass Us?
In 2013, Pam Bondi's office was considering whether to bring charges over a slew of complaints by Florida residents that they'd been victimized by Trump University, the for-profit college licensed to use the Donald's name.
But even as Bondi's office hinted the state might join New York's $40 million lawsuit against the school, the attorney general was calling Trump himself to ask for money. He happily obliged with a $25,000 donation. Soon afterward, Bondi dropped the investigation.
If that's not sleazy enough, Trump's donation was illegal. It came from his 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, which can't give political money, and it was never reported to the IRS.
Illustration by Jason Edmiston
Gov. Rick Scott
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Why Is He Speaking?
Like a health-care-defrauding political zombie, Scott's career never seems to die despite public opinion polls that rarely cross the Mendoza line. And even as his popularity within the state nears new nadirs, his national political ambition is soaring. Like Bondi, Scott tacitly got behind Trump much earlier than other Florida politicos. And he now reportedly has his sights set on a U.S. Senate run in 2018 — with his convention speech Wednesday a natural jumping-off point.
How Will He Embarrass Us?
In Florida, Scott is reeling from the biggest environmental catastrophe of his tenure. Pollutant-clogged Lake Okeechobee is overflowing into estuaries and canals stretching to both of the states' coasts, leaving toxic green sludge for hundreds of miles. The governor, meanwhile, has impotently blamed the feds while trying in vain to find a quick fix for a problem with roots in decades of water mismanagement and political carte blanche for the sugar industry.
Also, have you ever seen the guy speak in public? Good money is on Scott for the worst appearance at the RNC. It might not be a coincidence that the convention (accidentally?) left his name off the program schedule.