cartoon by Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Rick Scott's new ad campaign (March 14, 2014)

I feel for the creative advertising types tasked with injecting Rick Scott’s image with a little humanity. At least they’re being paid well.

 

 It’s a heavy lift to convince the public that someone who bought his current job with $70 million of his own money is a man of the people.

 

The early hardship story is touching — especially the part about using camping equipment for furniture when young Rick was first married — but two big factors stand in the way of a plurality of voters viewing the governor favorably. First, Scott’s stiff in public situations. Actually, he’s embarrassingly awkward in private ones, too. Just ask King Juan Carlos of Spain about the time Scott stepped in the elephant pile.

 

The other is Charlie Crist. Charlie is such a charmer, such a natural empathizer, such a smooth slinger of the sauce, that nobody cares where he came from. Nor does it matter what his core principles may have been at whatever period in his calculated political history. Charlie doesn’t need specialists to craft him an image. He wears his charisma effortlessly like his tan, while Scott’s personality remains as bare as his pate.

 

Scott realizes that running on Republican ideology isn’t necessarily going to win him re-election. Despite the complexion of our Legislature, Florida is a pretty middle-of-the-road state, and a fair number of voters realize that the standard GOP dogma doesn’t align with their best interests. Unlike our southern counterparts to the north, we’re also less susceptible to the siren call of hot-button distractions like gay marriage, abortion and immigration.

 

If you doubt that Scott is aware of this uncomfortable truth, witness his sudden about-face on Medicaid expansion, when he decided to pick up some cheap, harmless compassion points by running against the Legislature.

 

Ultimately, money is the big talker in a large state with expensive media markets. The governor is ahead in that horse race, but the abovementioned ad men toiling away in their sweatshop have their work cut out for them if they hope to execute an end-run around ex-Governor Warm and Fuzzy.