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  1. Florida Politics
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Rick Scott is already using Hurricane Michael in a political ad

Scenes of the governor surveying damage and housing state troopers are in a commercial for the Republican's Senate race again Democrat Bill Nelson. The ad is critical of a 30-second spot from a Democratic group that takes aim at Scott's Navy hat.
Gov. Rick Scott released a new ad in his U.S. Senate race that touts his leadership during Hurricane Michael.

A day after Gov. Rick Scott said he would take a break from campaigning to focus on Hurricane Michael recovery, the Republican released a new Senate race ad that puts the storm front and center.

And while the latest commercial accuses rival Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of "playing politics" during the storm, the 30-second spot is sure to draw criticism that Scott is doing the same.

The ad, called "Leading," features a photo of Scott in his Navy hat touring storm damage from the sky and passing supplies out of a plane.

Meanwhile, hurricane recovery efforts are still ongoing and the commercial's release coincided with the Scott administration announcing a significant jump in the death toll from the storm. At least 21 people have died in Florida from Hurricane Michael, up from previous reports of nine.

The body count may rise again as rescue teams continue to search for the remains of people reported missing after Wednesday's Category 4 storm buzzsawed through the Florida Panhandle as the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the state.

The ad also points out that after the storm Scott was "housing state troopers in his own home" i.e. the state-owned governor's mansion, raising questions on whether the widely applauded gesture could be politically motivated.

A photo in the ad of Scott in the mansion was distributed by his government office in a press release last week announcing the lodging for first responders.

"Those photos were released publicly and anyone can use them, including the media and our opponents," Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said.

Here’s the photo of Gov. Rick Scott speaking with state troopers who assisted in Hurricane Michael recovery in the governor’s mansion, provided by his official office.
And here’s a screen shot of the same photo in a political ad for Scott.

The ad accuses Nelson of a low blow for a recent commercial that rips Scott for wearing a Navy hat.

"Forty-six years in politics and a new low for Nelson: mocking the Governor's military service," a narrator says.

VoteVets, a Democratic leaning veterans' advocacy group backing Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate, is spending $4 million for a tough ad accusing Scott of ripping off the military's health care company when he led a health care conglomerate.

It features Navy veteran Alan Madison of Vero Beach sporting his own blue Navy cap suggesting that Scott does not deserve to wear the cap he so frequently does. Scott enlisted in the Navy in 1979 and served 29 months, finishing as a radar technician.

Prior to his political career, Scott led Columbia/HCA, which paid more than $800 million in fines for defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.

"Senator Nelson and his Democratic party boss Chuck Schumer have truly reached a new low by mocking the Governor's military service," Scott spokesman Chris Hartline said. "Considering that Schumer controls Nelson's vote and is funding his campaign, it hardly comes as a surprise that Democrats have gotten this desperate."

Here's the full transcript of the ad:

"With the campaign nearly over, let's take a behind the scenes peak at both candidates.

"First, Governor Scott… he's leading hurricane recovery, directing relief efforts, and even housing state troopers in his own home.

"And Senator Nelson? Running false attack ads mocking Governor Scott's service in the Navy.

"46 years in politics and a new low for Nelson: mocking the Governor's military service.

"Senator Nelson's playing politics dirty politics. Governor Scott is leading."

Gov. Scott: "I'm Rick Scott. I approve this message."