Rick Scott took a page from an old Miami playbook Monday, issuing an ad that contradicts in Spanish 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 very nice job of highlighting the governor’s bright blue eyes, is meant to appeal to Puerto Ricans who fled the island after 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, pointing out that he has visited the island eight times and that Florida offered aid and tuition breaks to those both on the island and who immigrated 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 when he entered the race.
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 something called AG Superfund, part of a group of funds that has put $321 million into an island utility called PREPA, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That newspaper’s sister paper in Fort Lauderdale has called Scott’s blind trust “a sham.”
Back in August, the Washington Post pointed out a “remarkable bifurcation” between the xenophobic message of Washington and that of candidates like Scott. In fact, in its Spanish language materials, the Orange County GOP called “reformamigratoria” — 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.)
While 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 Bedminster New Jersey golf club last year.
Miami, of course, has a long history of emphasizing different things in the two languages. The most famous instance was back in the 1990s, when Miami mayoral candidate Miriam Alonso called the Miami mayor’s job “a Cuban seat,” which contributed to her loss to then-Mayor Steve Clark. More recently, Maria Elvira Salazar, in a Spanish ad titled “Castro,” attacked Donna Shalala for an alliance with California Rep. Barbara Lee, who has praised the Cuban government. Said the ad: “Donna Shalala is not for Miami. She doesn’t speak Spanish, and she doesn’t understand Miami.” Shalala served 15 years as president of the University of Miami.