Florida gov. reacts to Starbucks critic with attack ad

One might think a governor with a mere 38 percent approval rating would be able to handle a little criticism from his constituents. But as Florida resident Cara Jennings learned this week, apparently no one attacks Rick Scott and gets away with it. Two days after Jennings was seen calling the Florida Republican governor “an a**hole” and an “embarrassment to our state” at a Starbucks in Gainesville, Scott’s political action committee has fired back with a video of its own. 

The newly released ad, titled “Latte Liberal Gets an Earful,” sets out to not only defend the governor’s record but also attack Jennings’ character, declaring that the “terribly rude woman” who lambasted Scott’s record on health care, abortion and employment “clearly has a problem.”

Based on PolitiFact’s fact checking of the now widely seen confrontation, Scott could have easily poked a few holes in most of Jennings’ claims. For example, the governor did not technically “cut Medicaid” as Jennings stated, but rather refused to expand the health care program to cover more low-income Floridians under a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

And while Scott did indeed recently sign a law that eliminates state funding for all health clinics that offer abortions — including Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of women’s health care services beyond abortion — he could have disputed Jennings’ claim that he “stripped women of access to public health care,” because technically not all public health clinics are ineligible for state funding under the law, just those that provide abortions. 

Rather than address her specific allegations, however, the folks over at Scott’s Let’s Get to Work PAC chose to dig up some dirt on Jennings.

“It turns out,” the ad reveals, “she’s a former government official who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and calls herself an anarchist.”

Only after attempting to discredit her does the ad actually refute something that Jennings said. During the epic coffee shop confrontation, the governor responded to the charge that he doesn’t “care about working people” by noting that 1 million jobs have been created in Florida since he took office.

“A million jobs?” Jennings asked in disbelief. “Who here has a great job?”

While PolitiFact argues that Scott can’t take complete credit for his state’s job growth, the ad doubles down on that defense, pointing out that 9,300 new jobs have been created just in the area surrounding the scene of the Starbucks showdown.

“Who here has a great job?” The ad asks, mimicking Jennings’ question. “Well, almost everybody. Except those sitting around coffee shops demanding public assistance, surfing the Internet and cursing at customers who come in.”

In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel, Jennings said she does not receive public assistance and that she was working on a fre e lance gig at Starbucks when the interaction with Scott, which she says started out as civil, took place. 

Jennings told the paper that she sent a letter to Scott’s office asking the governor to meet for coffee to discuss her concerns, but she took the ad to mean her invitation had been declined. 

“Gov. Scott and his PAC are bullies,” Jennings said. “Instead of addressing the issues I brought up, he’s using the power of his PAC to try to intimidate someone who spoke out against his policies.”