- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has struggled with lackluster poll numbers during his entire time in office, is launching a $2.2 million statewide television ad buy this week.

The 30-second ad is primarily biographical and features the governor mentioning his poor upbringing and how the family car was once repossessed. Scott stresses his background as the reason for his continued focus on improving the state’s economy.

“It’s exciting,” Scott said about the ad. “What the ad does is talk about my background and why I care so much about jobs.”

Scott’s message in the ad echoes the same points he has made in recent speeches, including his State of the State speech last week in front of the Florida Legislature.

The decision by the Scott campaign to invest money in the ad is an acknowledgement that the governor is locked in a tight re-election campaign this year. Recent polls have shown him trailing former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is seeking his former job as a Democrat. Scott is taking to the television airwaves sooner than he did when he mounted his 2010 campaign.

The ad is also a careful attempt by the Scott campaign team to reintroduce himself to the state’s voters four years after his narrow win over Alex Sink.

Republicans have maintained that voters are unaware of Scott’s childhood, including that he once spent time living in public housing. Scott, a former health care executive, won his first term after spending more than $70 million of his own money.

“It’s appropriate to tell people again who this man really is,” said State Sen. John Thrasher, who is the chairman of Scott’s re-election campaign.

Democrats, however, contend that Scott’s ad is an attempt to mislead voters about his record, including his attempts to slash taxes paid by businesses and his push during his first year in office to cut funding for public schools.

Rick Scott wants Floridians to think he’s on their side, when in fact he has spent his whole career rigging the system so that only he and his special interest friends will profit,” said Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.

The new ad is the first in what is likely to be a wave of television advertisements in the run-up to the November election that is already drawing in national attention.

Follow Gary Fineout on Twitter: https://twitter.com/fineout

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