Before the Florida gubernatorial debate was even over on Wednesday, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign was already capitalizing on the awkward four minutes in which Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott refused to take the stage because of a small fan placed at his opponent’s podium.
Crist campaign manager Omar Khan hit send on a fundraising email just 40 minutes after the incident now deemed “fangate.” As the debate continued, the Democrat’s supporters received the message: “I wasn’t planning on emailing you tonight. But something crazy just happened.”
Khan goes on to accuse Scott, who said Crist’s fan violated debate rules, of “[throwing] a temper tantrum backstage, denying the people of Florida the chance to hear from their gubernatorial candidates because of — literally — a breeze.”
The Crist campaign wasn’t the only side throwing witty jabs – Scott’s campaign manager Melissa Sellers quickly rallied with a retort.
“Charlie Crist can bring his fan, microwave, and toaster to debates – none of that will cover up how sad his record as governor was compared to the success of Rick Scott,” she said, according to The Huffington Post. “Crist should buy a fan for the 832,000 Floridians who lost their jobs while he was governor.”
Despite a decidedly awkward start to the evening — the audience jeered as moderators fumbled for words for several long minutes — Scott did eventually emerge to debate a range of topics, including same-sex marriage, Medicaid expansion, and the minimum wage. Both candidates offered distinctly different views on the issues.
Various left-leaning politicians and groups immediately jumped on the hashtag #fangate, which was trending on Twitter.
On Thursday morning, Scott took to his Facebook page to directly issue a feisty response, a graphic with a photo of a fan saying “I’m not a [fan] of Charlie Crist.”
Today, Scott is back to business. He issued a statement asking the CDC to contact all passengers who traveled on a Frontier Airlines plane for 24 hours after Amber Vinson, the second healthcare worker to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. The plane’s stops after Vinson’s travel included “one into and one out of [the] Fort Lauderdale Airport,” the statement read.
Recent polls show Scott and Crist in a dead heat for governor of the Sunshine State.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist plays Hardball tonight at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.