An environmental activist group recently tried to put up a billboard in Miami criticizing potential Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio's position on climate change.
"NO CLIMATE DENIERS IN THE WHITE HOUSE," the proposed ad from Forecast the Facts Action read, steering viewers to RubioIsNotReady.org.
But the ad never went up -– because the billboard company, Clear Channel Outdoor, considered it a political "attack," Forecast the Facts said.
"Clear Channel is applying a partisan filter to the ads that it allows Miami residents to see, and tilting the scale in favor of its own partisan agenda," Brant Olson, Forecast's campaign director, said in an email. "Clear Channel is playing dirty politics."
Untrue, countered Clear Channel, which says it offered Forecast the Facts a different location the environmentalists turned down.
Though Forecast the Facts had already signed a contract for the original billboard location, on Northwest 58th Street, Clear Channel had yet to ratify it when the group sent in the ad design. That's when Clear Channel rejected the location -- something the company says it sometimes does, even after a site has been made available to advertisers.
"All our contracts clearly state we reserve the right to final ad approval," spokesman Jason King said in an email. "And sometimes the original ad presented in discussions may only be a draft."
The billboard was Forecast the Fact's first attempt to shame a potential presidential contender over climate change. Senator Rubio said last year human activity is not "causing these dramatic changes to our climate," a claim PolitiFact rated False. The Florida Republican later explained he doesn't deny climate change but remains skeptical about whether it is man-made, despite agreement among an overwhelming majority of scientists that humans have contributed directly by burning fossil fuels.
The substitute location Clear Channel proposed on Northwest 36th Street was a (cheaper) electronic LED billboard. Forecast the Facts said no because its Rubio ad would have had less exposure, on rotation with other ads -- and because it could have been pulled at a moment's notice, Olson said. He noted that Clear Channel and its chairman have contributed $4,000 to Rubio since 2011.
To suggest the billboard didn't go up because of those donations is off base, King said: "It would absolutely not play a role in a decision regarding a billboard."
Meantime, Forecast the Facts is using the incident as a opportunity to rally its supporters, emailing them an image of what the billboard would have looked like and asking them to share it on social media. One email -- titled "Rejected!" -- was timed to coincide with Rubio's trip to Iowa last week to promote his new policy book, American Dreams. A Miami stop is scheduled for Friday night.
Here's what the billboard would have looked like: