By: Sean Curry
The second gubernatorial debate in Florida began in a very bizarre and unorthodox fashion on Wednesday as current Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott refused to take the stage for nearly 10 minutes due to his opponent, Democrat Charlie Crist, having a miniature electric fan placed under his podium. The former governor had set up a small fan underneath his podium, in order to help keep him from sweating under the intense stage’s lights at Broward College. Scott saw the fan, something that has become a sort of signature prop that often accompanies Crist during his public appearances, as a violation of the debate’s rules and subsequently refused to partake in the debate.
The debate moderators attempted to clarify the situation to the crowd of voters attending the debate, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now,” debate moderator Elliot Rodriguez told the crowd, as the camera centered on the two empty podiums onstage. Moments later, Crist walked onstage, but Scott was absent. “We have been told Governor Scott will not be participating in this debate,” Rodriguez explained. “Governor Crist has asked to have a small fan placed underneath his podium. The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign say that there should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there, and for that reason, ladies and gentlemen; I am being told that Governor Scott will not join us for this debate.”
The moderators tried to explain the disagreement while Republicans in the audience chided Crist for breaking rules while others erupted in loud booing of his seemingly immature act. “Are we really going to debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education, and the environment and the future of our state?” Crist asked. “I mean, really.” The Republican governor finally emerged nearly 10 minutes late as baffled moderators struggled to figure out what to do with a perplexed Crist standing solo on stage during live TV.
Fangate will most-likely rise to become the most memorable moment of both of their first high-profile televised debate. But for the roughly 7 percent of voters who remain undecided there were plenty of clear differences to consider ranging from the economy, the minimum wage, the environment, standardized testing and gay marriage: Crist supports gay marriage and believes the current ban is discriminatory while Scott claimed he supported “traditional marriage”; Crist is in favor of expanding Medicaid coverage to over 800,000 citizens while Scott says he would only do so if it was fully funded by the Federal government; Crist supports raising the minimum-wage while Scott is against it.