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When Florida working mom Cara Jennings gave Gov. Rick Scott a piece of her mind at a Gainesville Starbucks earlier this week, she didn’t realize a nearby cafe customer was recording it on his phone—much less did she expect to skyrocket to national fame and be applauded as a hero.
But not everyone found Jennings’ impromptu rant about Medicaid cuts and anti-abortion legislation inspiring. Gov. Rick Scott himself doesn’t seem to be taking the loud chorus of criticism spurred by the viral video very well.
In fact, Scott is really, really mad at the woman who yelled at him—and he’s coming for her personally.
On Friday, the governor’s political action committee posted a mud-slinging video response to the biting criticism Jennings loudly tossed his way in the notorious video. The Let’s Get to Work PAC, formed to raise funds for Scott’s gubernatorial campaign, took credit for the video—apparently using those funds to shame an outspoken state resident.
In the video, Jennings is called a “latte liberal” and a “terribly rude woman” who was “cursing and screaming.” It then goes on to point out that Jennings, in her former role as Lake Worth city commissioner, once allegedly refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance and is a self-defined political anarchist.
The surprising video continues a two-day attack on Jennings stemming from Scott’s camp. On Thursday, the governor’s office issued a statement deriding Jennings that the New York Daily News called “baffling” and “bizarre.”
“People with radical views tend to not like civil debate. A self-proclaimed anarchist rudely yelled and cursed at the Governor. She also refused to Pledge Allegiance to the flag. It’s a free country, but its not at all surprising that an anarchist prefers shouting over conversation.”
Friday’s video, continuing the attack response, refers to only one of the issues Jennings raised in the cafe. Without making any reference to Scott’s contentious anti-abortion bill defunding Planned Parenthood or the state’s stripping of Medicaid funds, the video focuses solely on the job-creation statistics during Scott’s tenure as governor.
In the video, Scott’s PAC focuses on jobs created in the Gainesville area, but the overall implication is that the governor can take credit for the one million jobs the state created over his five-year reign. But taking such credit, according to fact-checking blog Politifact, would be “a stretch” for any governor since many of the factors that result in job creation (national economy, population fluctuation) are out of the state government’s control.
Jennings was surprised by the video’s intense focus on discrediting her personally, telling the Daily Dot that the governor is a “bully” and that there’s “nothing like the power of the state coming at you.”
“So, if you call out the governor you get the power of his PAC coming after you,” wrote Jennings in a Facebook post on Friday. “Anyone see a problem with this power equation?”
Planned Parenthood also responded: “This ad underscores how out-of-touch Rick Scott is with Floridians,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. “Scott should be trying to fix the disaster he’s created for women’s access to health care in Florida, not trying to smear a constituent for speaking her mind.”
Laguens also noted that Planned Parenthood affiliates serve thousands of Floridian women and provide affordable contraception to nearly half the women in need in both Collier County and Palm Beach County, where Jennings lives.
The Daily Dot was able to verify that the video was produced by a PAC that Scott oversees. On Letsgettowork.net, where the video also appears on the PAC’s home page, the mission statement includes this line: “Let’s Get to Work is supported by Governor Rick Scott.”
In a lengthy interview with the Daily Dot on Tuesday, Jennings explained why she lost her cool when the governor walked into the cafe. She told the Daily Dot that the conversation “started out very calm” but escalated after she complained to Scott that his recent defunding of Planned Parenthood and stripping of Medicaid access left her with nowhere to go for basic women’s healthcare—to which he allegedly responded by telling her to visit the county health clinic.
“He thinks he has the authority to dictate where women go to get their mammograms,” said Jennings in the Daily Dot interview. “It doesn’t matter to him that the county health clinic doesn’t provide care that’s as good as Planned Parenthood.”
“He feels comfortable telling me where I should go,” Jennings continued. “I feel comfortable telling him he’s an asshole.”
Update 2:09pm CT, April 8: Updated to include statement from Planned Parenthood.
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.