POLITICS
04/08/2016 05:11 pm ET

Rick Scott Releases Attack Ad On Starbucks Woman Who Called Him An 'Asshole'

He's not really helping his case at all.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's political action committee has put out a new ad that goes after Cara Jennings, the woman who confronted him at a Starbucks and called him an "asshole."

On Tuesday, the Republican governor visited a Starbucks in Gainsville, Florida, where Jennings happened to be working on her laptop. 

"You cut Medicaid, so I couldn't get Obamacare," Jennings shouted at him. "You’re an asshole. You don’t care about working people. ... You should be ashamed to show your face around here."

Scott tried to defend himself by saying he had created 1 million jobs. But Jennings wasn't impressed, questioning whether any of the patrons around her had a great job lined up. 

The exchange, captured by fellow Starbucks patron Stephen Bender, quickly went viral. 

The new ad from Scott's PAC, "Let's Get To Work," calls Jennings "a terribly rude woman," a "latte liberal" and someone who "clearly has a problem." It defends Scott's record on job creation, arguing that "almost everybody" has a job "except those who are sitting around coffee shops, demanding public assistance, surfing the Internet and cursing at customers who come in."

Politifact said Florida has gained jobs during Scott's tenure. However, they didn't necessarily come about because of the governor. 

"Scott took office not long after a severe recession bottomed out," Politifact concluded. "It was no shock that whoever was elected governor in 2010 would benefit from some degree of job growth, since the worst of the recession would be behind them, and the economy tends to run in cycles."

Jennings told The Huffington Post on Friday that the new ad seemed unprecedented. 

"I've never heard of a governor of the entire state of Florida putting out a video like this in response to a constituent," she said. "It's pretty much unheard of. But if you're someone in Florida and you live here and you live under Rick Scott's policies, it's not that shocking."

Jennings is a longtime activist and former city commissioner of Lake Worth, Florida. The ad attacks her for describing herself as an anarchist who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while in public office. 

In 2010, Jennings explained to the Palm Beach Post why she would stand for the Pledge before meetings, but wouldn't actually say the words. 

"My intention is not to be disrespectful, and I give reverence to that tradition," she said. "I clearly pledge my allegiance to the people for whom I work."

On Friday, Jennings noted that Scott has endorsed GOP front-runner Donald Trump for president, and said the ad demonstrates how the two politicians are similar.

"When people come to [Trump's] events and speak out against him, he encourages for people to physically attack them," she said. "This seems like a page out of a shared playbook between Donald Trump and Rick Scott to attack people who try to bring attention to somebody's policies."

The new ad also doesn't address the other part of Jennings' Starbucks exchange with the governor, when she criticized him for refusing to expand Medicaid and cutting women's health services. 

Scott has been a vocal opponent of Obamacare, but he has gone back and forth on the Medicaid expansion made possible by the law. In 2012, he said he was against it. Then, in 2013, he shocked people and said he was for it. But last year, he said he opposed it, arguing that Florida could not “take on even more federal programs.” He also signed a bill last month that cuts off state funding for preventive health services to clinics that also perform abortions.

After her confrontation with Scott, Jennings wrote a letter to the governor asking to sit down and talk with him about issues like women's reproductive rights, voter disenfranchisement and climate change. She says she has not yet received a response. 


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