In what can only be described as one of the strangest beginnings to a governor’s debate, a squabble over Democratic opponent Charlie Crist’s small electric fan led incumbent Gov. Rick Scott to initially refuse to appear at Wednesday night’s first televised debate at Broward College.
“We have an extremely peculiar situation right now,” debate moderator Elliott Rodriguez said as the broadcast started.
Scott initially refused to take the stage as he saw Crist’s small fan, installed at his feet near the podium, as a violation of debate rules against props on stage. Crist’s affinity for the use of fans is well documented, as he often uses it during public appearances to keep cool.
The puzzled moderators visibly struggled on-air to make sense of the situation and attempted to explain the debate rules to viewers, all while a confused Crist stood solo onstage.
“Are we really going to debate a fan? Or are we going to talk about education, the environment, and the future of our state?” Crist asked to cheers from supporters in the crowd.
After some awkward discussion among the moderators, a flummoxed Gov. Scott soon appeared on-stage.
When asked why he had initially refused to appear, the incumbent Fla. governor gave a confusing response, saying he had waited to see if Crist would show up to the debate.
The moderators then sought to move on from the episode, and a contentious debate soon followed, with both candidates tackling a wide variety of issues including Medicaid expansion, same-sex marriage, and whether the minimum wage should be raised.
At the end of the debate, when asked by the moderators why he insisted on bringing the fan, Crist responded, “Why not? Is there something wrong with being comfortable?”
It’s still too early to say what the long-term effect of the fan episode will be in a close race already marred with partisan sniping and heavy spending from both sides.
Needless to say, the fan debacle garnered a lot of attention in social media.
by JOSEPH ZEBALLOS / staff writer