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Orlando Sentinel

Spicy TV Fare Flavors Search For Bush's Ad

Maria Padilla

July 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Curious about Gov. Jeb Bush's Spanish-language TV message to a cross-section of Hispanic voters, I alternated between Univision and Telemundo, the two networks over which Bush's $250,000 campaign is airing.

I wondered if Bush would make an appearance at 4 p.m. on Univision, in which case he would be sandwiched between El Gordo y la Flaca or The Fat Man and the Skinny Woman. The fat man spends a lot of time in a hot tub, where his guests, usually a beauty of the week, join him. The skinny woman keeps things from getting too risqué.

But I didn't see the governor.

Another day I switched over to Al Rojo Vivo or Red Hot, an evening news show on Telemundo starring the Puerto Rico-born Maria Celeste Ararrás, who just landed a lucrative contract to do this show about two-headed animals and other surreal tales.

Still, no Bush.

I moved to a later time slot and caught Cristina. The queen of Spanish-language talk shows was wearing a tight-fitting black bunny suit with ears -- not a good idea for Cuban-born Cristina, who is well into her middle years. Her guests didn't fare better.

The women were wearing French maid costumes and were asked to crawl on all fours with a strawberry in their mouths, dip it in chocolate and return to where their mates sat. His job was to retrieve the strawberry from her mouth.

Surely, Bush would not appear here.

It's on to the novelas or soap operas, which I grew up watching with my mother. The competition is much stiffer now.

There's Pedro El Escamoso, about a gigolo with a gold tooth; and El Clon, about love prohibited set in the Middle East with Brazilian actors who are dubbed in Spanish.

It was getting weird waiting for Jeb's ad, and that's too bad. For the Orlando Sentinel story about the commercial indicated that a light bulb had gone off in Jeb's head.

Just like Spanish-language TV is not the same as American television, all of Florida's Hispanics are not the same.

They do not wish to be addressed as if they were. Certainly not Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Colombians, Dominicans, or any other group.

Jeb's commercial finally acknowledges the differences, depicting the flags of various Hispanic groups, including Puerto Rico.

Now, for some time the Bush family has claimed a special relationship with a faction of Puerto Rico's pro-statehood party -- although it's hard to figure out exactly what the Bushes have done for Puerto Rico statehood.

Meanwhile, just like the ever-changing cast of characters in a novela, Central Florida also is filling up with Puerto Ricans who were born on the mainland; they have roots in the Democratic Party. What to do?

The Bush family began to see the light during the 2000 presidential campaign.

In an interview back then, Jeb's son, George P. Bush, grasped that Central Florida is dominated by Puerto Ricans. BUT they all don't come from the island, and they're all not Republicans, either.

Gov. Bush must have taken this data to heart. Two years later, he is addressing Hispanics in a different way than I recall from his 1998 campaign.

Which means it just might be worth wading through hours of Spanish-language TV to see this commercial.

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