Hey... Trust Me...

Did anyone see the Florida Supreme Court hearing yesterday? The judges kept asking the same question over and over again, are you sure you want either of these guys to be elected? — David Letterman

Politics in Florida helps America laugh. I’m sure it’s no different than Politics anywhere, but our openness and public access laws means that our Political scandals and corruption happen in the Sunshine.

What bothers me most about politics in Florida is when politicians try to either trick or falsely lead the elderly. I remember after the 2000 election, when Florida was ground zero for Political jokes, my grandmother received a phone call about her voting experience. My grandmother, who had voted for Gore, became convinced that she might have been tricked by the butterfly ballot and may have accidentally voted for the wrong candidate.

This angered me. First, the last thing my grandmother needs is stress. My grandmother, who incidentally is amazingly sharp and independent (and 98 years old), is part of “America’s Greatest Generation.” She’s lived through the depression, many wars, economic booms and busts, and political scandals. This is also a generation that likes to vote and have their vote counted. Gore’s campaign making my grandmother worried about her vote sickened me. I had to explain to her how I was certain her vote counted, that she was not tricked by the butterfly ballot, and how now I wish she had voted for someone else — because the butterfly ballot wasn’t even in her county.

But as usual, I digress.

For some reason, I receive a tremendous amount of political mail. Some of them I read, some of them I scan online, and others go directly into the shredder. I feel direct mail political advertisements rarely offers insight into a candidates message — and mostly just tends to feed into fears or hyperbole about an opponent. I still have the “call to grandma” stuck in my brain, so every now and then I read the political advertisements with a “who are they targeting here” kind of mentality. A recent mailing from Marco Rubio received this scrutiny.

Marco Rubio, a native of Miami, served in the Florida House for 8 years. He went to Santa Fe Community College, transferred to the University of Florida for his undergrad, and then received a Law Degree from the University of Miami. Marco Rubio, a republican, is challenging Governor Charlie Crist for a seat in the United States Senate.

I’ve received several mailings about Marco Rubio. A few directly from the Rubio campaign, and one from Mike Huckabee. In March, I received what I’ll call the “New York Times mailing” from the campaign, complete with “I’ve enclosed a must-read New York Times Article… open ASAP” written on the envelope.

The mailing, which I’ve attached, talks consistently about the New York Times article “Analysis; With Election Near, Gov. Crist Changes.” Marco Rubio encourages me to read the article, stating “I’ve enclosed a copy of The New York Times story just to prove it. I hope you take a minute to read it.” The last page of the mailing is a full article, printed underneath  The New York Times logo, and complete with a New York Times copyright.

Here’s the problem: The New York Times has no record of this article ever running in The New York Times. It’s an Associated Press article, not a New York Times article. According to The New York Times, they never ran it.

After reading the article, it just didn’t feel like an article from The New York Times. So, I went online and searched their website for it. Nothing found. I went through archives of the date on the article — nothing found. I reread the mailing and then started to see some items that concerned me…

Marco Rubio says, “Perhaps that’s why on December 12, 2009, The New York Times— traditionally a loyal cheerleader for just about every tax-and-spend politician, especially Republicans — ran a scathing article on Charlie Crist.” That date doesn’t match the date on the printed article. That date, December 7, 2009, does not match the copyright on the article — 2008.

So I checked The New York Times for December 7th (2008 and 2009) and December 12th (2008 and 2009). I simply could not find the article. But I didn’t give up. I called The New York Times and asked to buy a copy of the article. They couldn’t find it. I even emailed them, searching for it, saying I saw it in a political advertisement and just wanted to read it from the source.

I asked them:

  1. Did this article ever run in the New York Times?
  2. If yes, what date did it run?

Their response:

Hi Fred,

No, it does not appear that this article ever ran in The New York Times.

So I called the Marco Rubio campaign and after requesting to speak with a non-intern, talked with Alex Burgos (Communications Director). I asked Mr. Burgos about the article and at first, it seemed that Mr. Bugos thought I was part of another candidate’s campaign. It seemed strange to him that I would be asking about this article.

I was told that the article was part of a mailing put together by the Direct Mail [group] and that they were “pretty good” about fact checking. I told him about the response I received from The New York Times and asked why they would put that in the mailing, and emphasize it heavily, if it weren’t even an article from the The New York Times.

Mr. Bugos told me he would get back to me. So far, the phone hasn’t rang. I’ve left a few messages, but something tells me that there is nothing to say.

I believe that the Rubio campaign fabricated this article to gain support from some of the “northern transplants” living in Florida. The New York Times is a respected newspaper, especially by generations that were living in the North during before retirement. And, if I’m right… if this was just a complete fabrication then Marco Rubio should be removed from the ballot.

Irony aside (he wrote that “the concept I believe in is that you be truthful to the voters and to your principles at all times”), this sickens me. This sickens me as much as the Gore campaign did with a phone call to Grandma. And sadly, I don’t know where to go.

I did like Crist as a Governor. I haven’t been super impressed with him lately, but then again I haven’t been impressed with any politician in a very long time.

There’s a plus if Marco Rubio gets elected. I’ll have very good reason not to believe a single word he says or writes.

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