Rick Scott took a page from an old Miami playbook Monday when he issued an ad in Spanish that contradicts what he is saying and doing in English. It is designed to bolster the Florida governor's campaign to unseat incumbent Bill Nelson in the race for the U.S. Senate.
The 30-second ad, which does a fine job of highlighting the governor's bright blue eyes, is meant to appeal to Puerto Ricans who fled the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Many have settled in the Orlando area, which is usually the swing location in statewide races.
The ad asserts that Scott has been a great friend of Puerto Rico by pointing out that he has visited the island eight times and that Florida offered aid and tuition breaks to those living on the island and those who moved to the Sunshine State. "Scott confronts President Trump when he disagrees," a woman's voice intones. "Bill Nelson is weak."
Fact is, though, Scott’s ties to the president are clear. The governor was among the first prominent Republicans to back Trump, raised $20 million for his buddy's presidential campaign, and administered a pro-Trump-branded super PAC that became a super PAC supporting his own Senate run.
Moreover, Scott has profited from Puerto Rico's suffering through a less-than-blind trust he established with his wife Ann. Together they have invested between $1 million and $5 million in the AG Superfund, part of a group of funds that has put $321 million into an island utility called PREPA, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Its sister newspaper in Fort Lauderdale has called Scott's blind trust "a sham."
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In August, the Washington Post pointed out a "remarkable bifurcation" between the xenophobic message of Washington and that of candidates such as Scott. In fact, in its Spanish-language materials, the Orange County GOP called "reforma migratoria" — immigration reform — a core "value of the Republican Party." (The phrase, the Post said, is almost always used to mean creating a path to citizenship for immigrants.)
Though Scott hasn't attacked Puerto Rico in English, he has played up his relationship with the president, tweeting out a selfie of the two of them after a lunch at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, last year.
Miami, of course, has a long history of emphasizing different points in the two languages. The most famous instance was in the '90s, when Miami mayoral candidate Miriam Alonso called the mayor's job "a Cuban seat," which contributed to her loss to then-Mayor Steve Clark. More recently, Maria Elvira Salazar, in a Spanish-language ad titled "Castro," attacked Donna Shalala for an alliance with California Rep. Barbara Lee, who has praised the Cuban government. "Donna Shalala is not for Miami," the ad said. "She doesn't speak Spanish, and she doesn't understand Miami." Shalala served 15 years as president of the University of Miami.