If you didn't get the message during his State of the State Address last week, Rick Scott's re-election campaign is going to emphasize his humble roots. The campaign announced today that a new ad called "Families" will begin airing throughout the state beginning this Thursday.
Not surprisingly, Democrats weren't moved.
"Rick Scott wants Floridians to think he’s on their side, when in fact he has spent his whole career rigging the system so that only he and his special interest friends will profit,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp, referring to Scott's checkered history as CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, which ended up paying a record $1.7 billion in government penalties and fines for Medicaid and Medicare fraud.
“Rick Scott’s hypocrisy is on full display and no amount of campaign cash can change that. Rick Scott’s priority is where it’s always been — helping the wealthy special interests and his campaign donors, not Florida’s middle-class families," Karp added.
The Scott camp begs to differ.
"I think the ad is a reflection of the passion that Rick Scott has for creating jobs and why, and it all stems from his own experience, his own family, that struggled to make ends meet. To put food on the table. It wasn't associated with when he ran a company. It was associated to when he was growing up," said John Thrasher, GOP state Senator from St. Augustine and chairman of the Scott re-election campaign.
Scott's humble origins are something that he rarely discussed when running for office in 2010, but it's becoming a part of his stump speeches as his re-election campaign begins in earnest. Most Floridians never heard of Scott until he spent over $70 million of his own bank account to defeat Alex Sink four years ago, so humble roots are not the first thing that comes to mind.
"I think this is an opportunity to re-introduce him to most people," Thrasher suggested, and said anyone who suggests that the governor earned his riches through fraudulent methods is a liar. "The fact that he made money shouldn't be an issue to anybody. He's done a good job of using those dollars in a very positive way that he made."
"Charlie Crist is a professional politician and a professional mudslinger," he added when asked how he thought Scott's likely opponent in the general election would be handling the HCA/Columbia question.