TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will use a new statewide TV ad buy to soften his personal image with voters as he also collaborates on an upbeat book about people who chased their dreams in Florida.
Starting Thursday, Scott's face returns to TV screens as his re-election campaign spends $2.2 million on a TV ad that appears designed to humanize him. He's dressed in a casual shirt and is photographed from a side angle discussing his impoverished childhood.
"I think about my dad's face when his car got repossessed," Scott says as soft music plays in the background. "I think about my mom and how hard it was for her to put food on the table."
The new ad tackles Scott's greatest vulnerability: his persistently low popularity ratings in polls, a sign that many voters simply don't like him or can't relate to someone who spent $73 million of his fortune to be elected governor in 2010.
Polls show that Scott's leading Democratic challenger, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, is more popular with voters.
At the same time, Scott's name appears on a new coffee-table book, Chasing Sunshine: Remarkable People Who Found the American Dream in Florida, co-authored by a Tallahassee freelance writer, Heidi Tyline King, who described herself in an interview as a ghostwriter.
Just last week, Scott told reporters: "I'm not planning on having a book before the election."
On Tuesday, Amazon.com began accepting online pre-orders at $14.87 each and the website said the 205-page book would be available April 15. Amazon's blurb said the book will feature stories about Floridians from all walks of life: shark expert George Burgess, hurricane chaser Gladys Rubio and Tramar Dillard, better known as the rapper Flo Rida.
Scott's campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, said no copies of the book will be available before the November election.
"There's basically no book going anywhere until after the election," Sellers said. "There are a lot of other things going on."
King said Scott was "adamant" that the book not have any political content and that the people portrayed be as diverse as possible.
"They're not all Republicans, and in fact, we never asked people what their persuasions were," King said. "I think the governor felt like Florida does not tout itself enough. It really is a good place to live and there's a lot to showcase here."
King has written for Southern Living magazine and has done corporate profiles for Fortune 200 companies, she said.
Scott's campaign chairman, Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said it's important for the governor to reacquaint voters with his background, and how it relates to his desire to help people find jobs.
"In any kind of campaign, people forget. They have short memories," Thrasher said. "This is who this man is."
"It's ironic," Crist's campaign said. "Rick Scott says he's thinking about helping people while buying ads paid for by the very corporations receiving huge taxpayer-funded contracts."
Crist recently completed a three-week national tour promoting his book, The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.
Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.