Former Florida Governor and challenger, Charlie Crist, appears alone for the first few minutes of a their gubernatorial debate, as Florida Governor Rick Scott delays taking the stage on Oct. 15, 2014.
Andrew Innerarity/Reuters

Stunning moment at start of Florida debate


A hotly anticipated debate was put on hold because one of the participants wasn’t a fan… of an electric fan.

In what could be described as one of the most stunning moments of the 2014 debate season, Florida Gov. Rick Scott delayed Wednesday night’s debate with Democratic opponent and former Governor Charlie Crist because of the electric fan kept under Crist’s podium.  

After being introduced and asked to come on stage by the debate moderator, Scott refused to take his position behind the podium. When his name was called a second time, Scott remained backstage. His absence created confusion among both those organizing the debate as well as the audience in attendance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now,” said Frank Denton, editor of the Florida Times-Union, who was serving as one of the debate moderators.  “This is remarkable over a trivial issue no matter which side you’re on…Governor Scott will not be participating in this debate.”

The Scott campaign said debate rules prevented electronic equipment from being on stage with the candidates… including the electric fan positioned behind Crist’s podium.

“Are we really going to debate a fan?” Crist asked.

Crist, the former Florida Republican-turned-Democrat, has been known for his frequent requests to keep a fan near him during interviews, speeches, and debates over the years.

The debate, which was carried live on C-SPAN, surprised many political observers, including C-SPAN’s political editor, Steve Scully.  

“No doubt one of the strangest moments I have ever seen in covering mid-term election debates,” Scully wrote on his Twitter feed.

Members of the Florida press were equally shocked.  

“That is one for history books,” tweeted Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith.

After delaying the debate by seven minutes and following an announcement by the moderator that he would not be participating, Scott emerged from backstage and took his spot at the podium.

All In with Chris Hayes, 10/15/14, 8:39 PM ET

Florida's gubernatorial debate gets a wild kickoff

A scuffle about a fan caused a very awkward long delay in Florida’s gubernatorial debate between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist.

Charlie Crist, Debates and Rick Scott

Stunning moment at start of Florida debate