Ford O’Connell Accused of Being a ‘RINO’ in New Political Ad: ‘Rush Was Right’

August 11, 2022 Updated 5:41 PM ET

Campaign ad paid for by Floridians for Positive Change.
Campaign ad paid for by Floridians for Positive Change.

August 11, 2022 Updated 3:35 P.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – A political ad against Ford O’Connell paid for by Floridians for Positive Change says that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh “was right” about referring to the State House candidate as a ‘RINO,’ or ‘Republican in Name Only.’

“Ford O’Connell … he wants to turn the Republican Party into a RINO party,” Limbaugh is heard saying.

O’Connell is running for State House in District 77, the primary of which is set to be held August 23. Tiffany Esposito is also vying for the GOP nomination for the seat.

The ad says O’Connell “trashed Ronald Reagan” by using the phrase “Obsessive Reagan Disorder” in Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery. Find the book here.

The ad says that in the same piece, the candidate “endorsed amnesty for illegals.” Highlighted text in the ad reads O’Connell referring to an “embrace of immigration reform,” but in the depicted selection, O’Connell did not endorse “amnesty for illegals.”

Another claim shows a Tweet from the Republican saying he finds “the Trump fascination beyond idiotic,” but the ad said he was referring to “Trump’s candidacy.”

“If that’s how you want people to think of you … become a Democrat,” Limbaugh continued. “Rush was right,” the narrator said. “RINO Ford O’Connell – So liberal he might as well be a Democrat.”

In a 2016 article penned by O’Connell out of The Hill, the candidate defended himself against Limbaugh’s statements.

“The nation’s most popular radio host concluded I am disloyal to Republicans, would not support the GOP ticket if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or Donald Trump emerged as the nominee, and advocate amnesty and greening the party,” he said. “I was making the point — as I often do — that the party will have to figure out new ways to win as the country grows less white and more Hispanic and as fewer and fewer voters seek to relitigate the gay marriage issue.”

He went on to say that if Ted Cruz or Donald Trump won the 2016 GOP nomination for president, “the people who are ready to start having those hard conversations about the future of the party will be pushed to the edge. That seems unarguable. Their way will have lost. Those conversations will take place because they must. But they will take place later.”

In response to what O’Connell referred to as the “Reagan fetish” line, he said his statement was a strategic one, not an indictment of Reagan: “Times and needs have changed and continuing to venerate Reagan falls on deaf ears of actual millennials, and allows Democrats to paint us as the party of the past.”

“If Trump or Cruz wins the nomination, I will support either one with contributions and in any other way either candidate sees fit. And I will do so as enthusiastically as I would for any other Republican candidate who emerges,” he wrote. “The fact is that I would never abandon our nominee. I am 100 percent in favor of the Republican candidate winning the 2016 presidential election, and I then would hope that president would govern as a strong conservative.”

“If it means going off the Republican National Committee song sheet to win, so be it. If it means winning not because the principles of the ‘autopsy’ were honored, but because the country fears Democrats don’t have a handle on national security or the economy, so be it.”

O’Connell ended by arguing the GOP must think about what it ought to look like in 2028 onward, “when the nation is no longer majority white.”

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Florida’s Voice is a patriotic news network that you can trust to deliver the truth with no hidden agenda. Founder and Editor in Chief Brendon Leslie left his job in mainstream news to practice journalism as it should be, unbiased and unbossed.

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