The defining moment of Wednesday’s Florida gubernatorial debate came down to a fan — and not even of the human variety.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist stood alone on stage for a visibly awkward four long minutes as Republican Gov. Rick Scott refused to come out, claiming that the small fan below his opponent’s podium violated debate rules.
CBS Miami moderators fumbled over their words, announcing initially that both candidates were “not stepping up on the stage” due to “an extremely peculiar situation.” They then quickly introduced Crist, who walked out and took his spot behind the podium.
Crist, a Democrat, stood on stage alone while a moderator announced that the incumbent governor would not be coming out because “the rules of the debate that [he] was shown by the Scott campaign say that there should be no fan.”
The next few minutes were chaotic as the audience jeered, Crist attemped to get a few talking points in, and moderators asked Crist if the rules of the debate did, in fact, dictate that fans were not allowed. Crist responded to accusations that his fan was a violation of the rules by pointing at a subset of the crowd and saying, “They’re my fans!”
A few minutes into the banter and after awkward silences between Crist, the moderators, and the audience, it was announced that Scott would be taking the stage.
Recent polls show Scott and Crist in a dead heat for governor of the Sunshine State.