|By Marc Caputo and Steve Bousquet, The Miami Herald|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Fernandez's politically explosive complaints were in an email he sent last month that foreshadowed his abrupt resignation last Thursday as co-finance chairman of Scott's re-election effort. A billionaire owner of and investor in health care plans, Fernandez remains a strong Scott supporter, and hosted a
But the aftershocks of Fernandez's resignation are a major distraction for Scott's campaign and underscore a key part of the Democrats' opposition strategy: that Republicans can't relate to Hispanic voters. The most explosive part of Fernandez's
When Lt. Gov.
Fernandez's email indicates that he never heard the comments he complained about. A business partner named "Luis" apparently did on the way to a
"It's culturally insensitive for him to hear a senior staff members [sic] mimicking a Mexican accent on the way to Chipotle. It shows that the team does not understand the culture YOU need to win," Fernandez wrote on his iPad.
Dismissing the accusation, Lopez-Cantera said Monday: "There's no validity that we can find to any of those comments, or what was written. This is a diverse organization. We don't tolerate inappropriate comments and I don't believe they even happened."
"You get high-powered people like
Fernandez, a million-dollar donor to Scott who helped raise
The email, one of a number of Fernandez missives, offers a rare glimpse into the internal friction in the Scott campaign and mirrors concerns voiced by other Republicans that Scott isn't doing well enough in the polls against his likely challenger, Democrat
Fernandez used the comment about Mexican-accented English as a jumping-off point to complain about how Scott's top team is new to
"Would you hire me to manage a campaign in
Saler has worked as a Republican activist in
"I truly believe that the difference in this race is the Hispanic vote," Fernandez wrote. "But what do I know, I have only made over a billion selling to this population."
Fernandez didn't raise this issue as his top concern. He first fretted, for instance, that "the team is united but homogenous in its thinking and seems to be feeding off each other and scared of disagreeing with the Governor."
As an astute and successful businessman, Fernandez wanted to convene a small committee to review finances for the campaign, which has a goal of
Fernandez couldn't understand the resistance, and he wasn't happy.
"I am not the Chief of Staff, I am not the Campaign Manager, I am not a Strategy Consultant," he wrote. "I will say this again, I am not a Yes Man and don't mistake my smile and courteous nature as a weakness. So I will continue to speak my mind as I owe it to Rick. Anytime you want me out, just tell me and I will go away with a smile."
Fernandez began his
Both men also share a common, rags-to-riches story. Fernandez, a penniless immigrant who came to the U.S. from
Scott, also 61, spent part of his childhood in public housing, became a mergers-and-acquisitions attorney and built the nation's largest hospital chain,
"As we heard at every stop, the Governor's life is not known, and it's his most powerful story. People need to know that he understands them... That he lived what they are living through," Fernandez wrote. "We must define him early in March as a feeling, sensitive, caring man who has come from nothing to where he is today. That he is doing this not for money but for the love he has for the people of
Scott's campaign did in fact begin airing an ad that hit on those very themes this month. It also plans to launch a second ad Thursday that attacks Crist for calling the unpopular Affordable Care Act "great."
Lopez-Cantera had planned to discuss the ad with reporters on Monday during a conference call, but the call was shutdown after reporters started off with three questions about Fernandez's departure and Democrats' claims of "racism."
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