"Ladies and gentleman, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now," said moderator Eliott Rodriguez.
That's how Wednesday's night's debate between Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and former governor Charlie Crist (D) kicked off. In one of the most bizarre starts to a debate, well, ever, Scott initially refused to come out because Crist asked to have a small fan placed under his podium in what to Scott claimed was a violation of the rules, the moderator said. Democrats quickly posted the clip of the strange opening online:
A few minutes later, Scott came out. The two candidates debated. Things started looking more normal.
OK. Rick Scott is now coming on stage. He will debate now.
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) October 15, 2014
Crist was asked by the moderator toward the end of the debate by why he decided to use a fan if he knew it would cause a dispute. "Why not?" Crist responded. "Is there anything wrong with being comfortable? I don't think there is." Scott suggested he thought Crist might be a no-show. He said "he waited to see" if the Democrat "was going to show up." A Crist adviser posted a picture of the rules Crist signed on Twitter. They seem to indicate that a fan was allowed:
Crist's affinity for having a fan nearby all the time is well-documented.
Later, the Scott campaign seemed to concede: a fan was fine by them after all.
“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," Scott campaign manager Melissa Sellers said in a statement. "Crist should buy a fan for the 832,000 Floridians who lost their jobs while he was governor.”