POLITICS

Florida Governor Rick Scott Intensifies Effort To Court Latino Voters

  • AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 28:  A bilingual sign stands outside a polling center at public library ahead of local elections on April 28, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Early voting was due to begin Monday ahead of May 11 statewide county elections. The Democratic and Republican parties are vying for the Latino vote nationwide following President Obama's landslide victory among Hispanic voters in the 2012 election.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 28: A bilingual sign stands outside a polling center at public library ahead of local elections on April 28, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Early voting was due to begin Monday ahead of May 11 statewide county elections. The Democratic and Republican parties are vying for the Latino vote nationwide following President Obama's landslide victory among Hispanic voters in the 2012 election. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott.  (AP)

  • Dec. 19, 2012: Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist delivers a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.

    Dec. 19, 2012: Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist delivers a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP)

It’s still early, as far as the November elections go.

But Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, is already on his second Spanish-language campaign ad, and this one takes a direct hit at his challenger, Charlie Crist.

The ad accuses Crist, who was Florida governor from 2007 to 2011, for ruining the state’s economy. The title of the ad is “Nos Abandono (He Abadoned Us).”

Scott is also trying to capitalize on the Florida legislature’s recent passage of a bill that allows people who are in the United States illegally to attend public colleges at the same tuition rates as legal residents of the state.

Scott, who has trailed Crist in polls, has noted that in 2006, when Crist was a Republican, he opposed in-state tuition. Crist now supports it.

A group supporting Crist, meanwhile, recently released an ad targeting Latino voters that hits back at Scott. The ad draws attention to Scott’s past hard-line stances on immigration.

Both men are casting each other as chameleons who have flip-flopped on issues of interest to many Latinos for the sake of getting their votes.

“Charlie Crist, the human chameleon, has held at least two positions on practically every issue, including issues the Hispanic community cares about,” The New York Times quoted Ana Navarro, a GOP strategist, as saying.

Political observers say the increasingly nasty tone of campaign ads targeted at Latinos is a recognition of how important the voting bloc is.

"It's the vote that's going to make the difference in who becomes governor," said Evelyn Perez-Verdia, the Weston-based publisher of the website PoliticalPasion.com, according to the Sun Sentinel.  "We're the swing vote, the vote that's unpredictable. Hispanics tend not to vote for the party. They'll vote for the person."

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