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GOP alters Gillum attack ad after scrutiny from Pulse shooting survivor

The ad, which is in Spanish, is scheduled to run statewide starting Wednesday.
This image of Gillum has been replaced in the new version of the ad. | YouTube
This image of Gillum has been replaced in the new version of the ad. | YouTube
Published Oct. 2, 2018

After swift criticism from the Florida Democratic Party and a prominent survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Florida GOP said Tuesday it is swapping out a particular image in a Spanish-language ad attacking Andrew Gillum.

The ad, which is scheduled to run statewide starting Wednesday, previously featured a photo of Gillum apparently receiving a ribbon from the family of a victim the Pulse shooting — which the Democrats called a "disgusting" politicization of the June 2016 tragedy which left 49 people dead.

"I'm sick of Republicans using Pulse as some political prop after they turned their back on that community for so long," said Brandon Wolf, a Pulse survivor and gun control activist who spoke on a Tuesday press call organized by the Democrats. "I am really sick of desperate political serpents like Ron DeSantis who will quite literally say anything and do anything to win elections. I am really really sick of the memory of 49 lives constantly being trampled on."

Meredith Beatrice, spokeswoman for the Florida GOP, said Tuesday afternoon that the the image had been "swapped out" for a different photo of Gillum.

"There was no intention to be insensitive in any way," she wrote in a statement. "However, we stand by the message of the ad."

The ad's content is unrelated to the tragedy, and doubles down on Republican messaging that Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, is a "socialist" and compares his policies to the socialism in Latin America.

"The Gillum agenda: Impose socialist ideas in Florida. Abusive taxes. Excessive government. Choking bureaucracy and parents losing control over the education of their children," the narrator says in Spanish. "None of these ideas have worked in the countries we know well. The Gillum agenda will bring the same results: misery."

Using imagery of crumbling buildings and a briefcase full of cash, the narrator also says Gillum is "financed by the extreme left and under a cloud of corruption," referencing the FBI probe of the city of Tallahassee.

The ad is reminiscent of Republican candidate Ron DeSantis' talking points throughout his general election campaign. He launched the post-primary phase of his race at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Miami and soon began comparing Gillum's policies to those of Venezuela, a country that many have fled to seek refuge in Florida.

READ MORE: How GOP warnings about Venezuela and socialism could hurt Andrew Gillum in Miami

PolitiFact rated DeSantis' claim that Gillum has a "far left socialist platform" false in early September.

Here is the new version of the ad, which no longer features the image of Gillum holding the ribbon: