Gov. Scott's public Facebook page
It's not unusual to find politicians who'll use props to convey carefully crafted campaign messages. Shortly before the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush bought a ranch in Texas, presumably to make him look more rugged. In 2010, Scott Brown used a pickup truck, largely for the same reason.
But Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has offered the political world a valuable lesson: if you need a campaign prop, don't use a dog.
Shortly after winning the GOP nomination in 2010, Rick Scott announced to the world through Facebook that his family had rescued a Labrador Retriever.
And, with help from his Facebook friends, Scott gave it a name: Reagan.
It was just a few months before the gubernatorial election, and Scott seemed to think this was a smart idea. Adopting a dog -- a rescue dog, at that -- made the Republican look compassionate, and naming the dog "Reagan" helped him pander shamelessly to his base. It was a big p.r. win, which rewarded Scott with lots of positive attention that he sorely needed after a rough GOP primary.
So what's the problem? As it turns out, no one has seen Rick Scott with his dog since the day before he took the oath of office. Asked about the dog, the governor's aides initially refused to discuss the matter. Aides to the governor's wife also ignored requests for information.
You can probably guess where this is headed.
It took several days, but eventually, the governor conceded that he got rid of the dog about a month after taking office. Apparently, Reagan "barked like crazy'' around the governor's photographer and made people in the mansion uncomfortable, so the lab was sent back to All Pets Grooming and Boarding, a business in Naples.
Scott already has a painfully low approval rating; I don't imagine this will help.
And while it's safe to assume next year's gubernatorial race in Florida will focus on a wide variety of issues, I have a hunch we'll be hearing about Reagan's departure, too. Stories like these have a way of lingering -- and if you doubt that, consider whether you heard anything about Mitt Romney's Seamus over the last year.