Tallahassee, FL – Governor Rick Scott's so-called "letters to the editor" recently gained national attention, when well-known comedian Stephen Colbert highlighted it on his show earlier on in the week. The letters are part of the effort to help the Governor's image, due to his low poll numbers. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, some say it may not be helping.
In his segment, "Tip of the Hat, Wag of a Finger," Stephen Colbert, known for his political satires, said his current favorite Governor Rick Scott is in trouble due to a Quinnipiac poll that came out a month ago, stating Scott is the least popular Governor in America with a low approval rating.
"29-percent is low, but he'd [Scott] probably be doing better if he wasn't trying to kill Harry Potter. Well, folks It was a campaign promise. What can he do? It was a campaign promise."
Colbert later tipped his hat to Scott, after he read a letter aloud, outlining his accomplishments, calling the Governor "refreshing" and deserving of quote: "our unwavering support."
"I'm so proud of this letter, which is why I'm giving a tip of my hat to Governor Rick Scott for writing it. You see, to boost his popularity, Scott courageously posted this pre-written letter of praise for himself that his supporters can sign and forward to Florida newspapers."
"He's trying to get his supporters to get engaged."
Political Scientist Susan McManus says the so-called "letters to the editor" are a little unusual coming from the Governor, but she puts in perspective the intent behind the "letters."
"Obviously, his staff, it's probably not him personally, but his Communication staff is, I'm sure, trying to get his supporters to weigh in with newspapers across the state, but it's probably not the best strategy when your poll numbers are low because it does call attention to the fact when your poll numbers are low."
Scott has always said he's not trying to win a popularity contest. Here is he talking about his low rating back in March.
"Well, as we all know, as I said in my state of the state address, my job is not to become the most popular. This state will be the most likely to succeed."
Recently, the state Republican Party has released robo-calls from the Governor touting himself as a jobs-oriented governor and highlighting his achievements. Also, on the Governor's web site, there are those letters written about Scott that can be sent to newspapers around the state.
Florida's Republican Party Chairman Dave Bitner says the party is also encouraging people to write their own letters as well. He says when the media attacks the Governor, the only outlet Scott has is to try to talk about his accomplishments in Florida, including his and the legislature's job creation efforts.
"It was all about trying to find something negative. And so, the Governor and we, we the [Republican] Party, think that the rest of the people of the state need to know the positives of what he's done. SO, the Party wants to try to let people know and offset the negatives that we read in the paper and see in the media that is so slanted so we tried to help!"
But, some like liberal leaning Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen, say all that Scott has done to help his image has turned into a disaster, which he says is reflected in the numbers. In one of their recent polls, former Governor Charlie Crist could win against Scott if Crist became a Democrat. It also showed Scott's numbers were slightly better than the Quinnipiac poll with a 33-percent approval rating.
"Obviously voters have been sending the message through all these polls and other outlets, saying they don't like what the Governors doing and his response has pretty much been I don't care and usually, if politicians don't care what the public thinks, those approval numbers are just going to get worse and worse and worse."
Randy Nielsen, the founder of Public Concepts, does not agree. He owns a political consulting firm, who helped produce the more conservative Viewpoint Florida poll, which showed Scott's current approval rating at 45-percent. He says their numbers give an actual view of potential voters for the 2012 presidential elections, and if Scott keeps doing what he promised, his numbers will definitely go up in time.
"He's got three and a half years, and if I were Governor Rick Scott, I would just stay at task and I would keep working it, what people what you want them to do, and if you have success with jobs, then you'll have success with your polling numbers."
Eric Jotkoff, the Florida Democratic Party Spokesman, says the fact that the governor's actions are being mocked on a national TV shows how ridiculous Scott's actions have been so far and there's nothing he can really do to strengthen his image.
"The hypocrisy of this Governor, is very telling, that Rick Scott has earned the distinction of being the least popular Governor in America, for destroying the 100-thousand jobs, for putting his extreme tea party agenda for what's right for Florida."
Jotkoff says Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith has asked their supporters to write their own letters to the editors, in response to the Governor's pre-written ones to express their views on what they really think of the Governor. Other groups have done the same like Florida Watch Action, known for their "Pink Slip Rick" slogan. Stephen Colbert also has a draft of his own pre-written letter to Scott on his web site, the only difference: people can fill in their own adjectives in the blank spaces left in the letter.