Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said that he is issuing what he described as a “formal travel advisory for socialists visiting Florida” in response to a controversial advisory that was released by the NAACP earlier this week.
“The state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by socialists and others who work in the Biden Administration,” Scott, a former Republican governor, said in a press release. He added that the state is “openly hostile” to socialists and their backers.
“Let me be clear—any attempts to spread the oppression and poverty that socialism always brings will be rebuffed by the people of Florida,” his statement said, adding: “Travelers should be aware that attempts to spread socialism in north Florida will fail and be met with laughter and mockery.”
The senator’s comment, which appears to be a joke, comes after the NAACP released a “travel advisory” saying the state has become “hostile” to black people under Florida’s current leadership. The NAACP Board of Directors’ claim did not provide evidence or any examples of the alleged hospitality, while it was later reported that the head of the board, Leon Edwards, reportedly lives in the state.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP Board of Directors wrote. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
🚨 NEW FLORIDA TRAVEL ADVISORY 🚨 pic.twitter.com/r9GFLzIL8x
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) May 23, 2023
Scott, who is up for reelection in 2024, added that “the situation is far more dangerous for socialists” in south and central Florida due to the large population of Cubans and Venezuelans “who have direct knowledge of, and experience with, the horrors of socialism.”
In response to Scott’s press release, White House press secretary Andrew Bates told Fox News that “Senator Scott is of course entitled to these wild-eyed critiques of Medicare and Social Security, but President Biden is proud to stand with Florida’s seniors in support of both critical programs—the benefits of which all Americans pay to earn.”
The DeSantis administration said the NAACP travel advisory was a “stunt,” while the governor was dismissive. “We get involved in these stupid fights,” DeSantis told reporters. “This is a stunt to try to do that. It’s a pure stunt. And fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that’s fine.”
Other than the NAACP, several left-wing groups—including LGBT organizations—have issued similar “travel warnings” to Florida in recent weeks. Like the NAACP, those groups did not provide any evidence or examples of LGBT individuals being targeted in the state.
Florida is one of the most popular states in the U.S. for tourists, and tourism is one of its biggest industries. More than 137.5 million tourists visited Florida last year, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency. Tourism supports 1.6 million full-time and part-time jobs, and visitors spent $98.8 billion in Florida in 2019, the last year figures are available.
The NAACP’s claims came after the DeSantis’ administration in January rejected the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies course. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers also have pressed forward with measures that ban state colleges from having programs on so-called diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as critical race theory.
Earlier this year, DeSantis issued a press release saying that claims that he was banning books in his state are false.
“Exposing the ‘book ban’ hoax is important because it reveals that some are attempting to use our schools for indoctrination,” he said. “In Florida, pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students violate our state education standards. Florida is the education state and that means providing students with a quality education free from sexualization and harmful materials that are not age appropriate.”
DeSantis is expected to file paperwork for a 2024 presidential run in the very near future, according to reports. On Tuesday, The Epoch Times confirmed that DeSantis is slated to announce his 2024 candidacy during a Twitter event held with its owner, Elon Musk, on Wednesday.
In an event with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Musk stated that he would interview the Florida governor. “Yes, I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis and he has quite an announcement to make,” Musk said.
In an average of polls maintained by RealClearPolitics, Trump held the lead on May 23 with 56.3 points. DeSantis trailed in a distant second with 19.4 points. Other major candidates include entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and conservative talk show host Larry Elder.
A number of other Republicans are also entertaining 2024 bids, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence.
The Associated Press and Ivan Pentchuokov contributed to this report.