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Florida GOP Aims Big TV Ad Campaign At Hispanics

Bush Speaks In Spanish-Language TV Spots

Florida GOP Aims Big TV Ad Campaign At Hispanics


July 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

Its coffers overflowing with millions of dollars from wealthy contributors, the Florida Republican Party began spending a chunk of the money Wednesday on television ads aimed at Hispanic voters.

A party spokesman would not say how much the state GOP is spending on the ad but said it was the first of a series to be aired through November in what was billed as one of the largest Spanish-language media campaigns in the country. The ads are appearing in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay and Orlando media markets, which have the biggest concentration of Hispanic voters in Florida.

The first ad is pitched at immigrants from Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Nicaragua, as well as resident Puerto Ricans. The ad begins by showing flags of those countries and Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth.

Speaking Spanish, an announcer says, 'No matter where we came from, or why we came, we have found in this land . . . opportunity. A better education for our kids. Healthcare our families deserve. A state that has opened its arms and said to us, `This is our home.' ''

It ends with Gov. Jeb Bush appearing on the screen and saying in fluent Spanish, ``We all want a better life. Together, we are making it happen in this place we call home. Florida, our home.''

Democrats, who don't have the money to buy this type of ad time, are relying on a grass-roots effort to woo Hispanic voters, said Ryan Banfill, the state party's spokesman.

''No amount of marketing will change that Jeb Bush is wrong on the issues,'' Banfill said.

The Florida Republicans estimate that one million of the state's nine million registered voters are Hispanic. Traditionally, most were Cuban, but more and more non-Cuban Hispanics have come to Florida in recent years.

While the Cuban Americans have traditionally voted Republican, the non-Hispanic Cubans have often favored Democrats.

Political pros particularly have their eye on the Puerto Ricans who have come to central Florida and helped Al Gore carry Orange and Osceola counties in 2000, the first time since 1944 that the Democratic presidential candidate won both counties.

In the 1998 governor's race, Hispanics overall favored Bush over Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay, 61 percent to 39 percent, an exit poll showed.

In the 2000 presidential election, with more non-Cuban Hispanics voting, George W. Bush won 49 percent to Gore's 48 percent.

Bush Speaks To State's Hispanics In Spanish-Language TV Spots

By John Kennedy | Tallahassee Bureau Chief

July 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush speaks Spanish in a new TV campaign ad that begins airing today on Hispanic television in Florida, the first step of a major media drive for Hispanic voters by the state's Republican Party.

The 30-second spot, carried on the Univision and Telemundo TV networks in Central and South Florida, is designed as a soft-focused appeal, chiefly to recent arrivals in Florida.

"We all want a better life," Bush, who is fluent in Spanish, says in the ad. "Together we are making it happen in this place we call home. Florida, our home."

While Cuban-Americans have long proved a core constituency for Florida Republicans, the ad is noteworthy by also displaying images of the flags of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Columbia, the Dominican Republican, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Florida voters whose roots stem from those nations are considered more of a toss-up this election, and are being aggressively courted by the state's Democratic Party.

"We're not overlooking one vote," said Towson Fraser, a Florida GOP spokesman, of the $250,000 ad campaign. "We are going to make an extensive effort to attract all Hispanic voters, along with Cuban-Americans."

As part of that focus, the Bush campaign recently polled non-Cuban Hispanic voters in Central Florida, finding that while the Democratic Party proved more popular than the GOP, the governor still drew strong job-approval ratings.

For their part, Florida Democrats also are looking to lure Hispanics to help the party's eventual gubernatorial nominee -- Janet Reno, Bill McBride or Daryl Jones.

The party recently hired a new state director of Hispanic outreach, Irma Palacios, who was an outreach official with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Ryan Banfill, a state Democratic Party spokesman, downplayed the impact of the GOP's ad campaign.

"He speaks their language," Banfill said of Bush. "But he doesn't speak to their issues."

Banfill predicted that Hispanics this election will more likely embrace the Democratic campaign pitch for improving education, reducing class-size and creating jobs.

"This is only about one-tenth of what we're hoping to do," Fraser said.

Today, along with taking part in a local Republican Party barbecue in Kissimmee, Bush will attend a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens in Tampa.

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