Debate sponsors say Charlie Crist violated the rules

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Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association Thursday released a statement saying that Charlie Crist violated the rules for last night’s gubernatorial debate by insisting on having a portable fan.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the statement reads in part:

“Both campaigns receive a letter in advance from the debate organizers (FPA and LF) stating the format, logistics and other detailed information relating to the debate. The letter also specified that candidates may not bring electronic devices (including fans), visual aids or notes to the debate but will be provided with a pad and pen.”

“The Crist campaign signed and returned the letter with a hand-written note ‘with understanding that the debate hosts will address any temperature issues with a fan if necessary.’ Dean Ridings, FPA President, received and reviewed the note and told the Crist campaign that the partners want all candidates to be comfortable, but that he expected that Bailey Hall, the newly renovated-facility at Broward College where the debate was to be held, would be maintained at a comfortable temperature, and if there was a temperature problem, the partners would deal with it appropriately.”

Holy Sheldon! Is that a no to Crist’s fan?

Not to get all Asperger but shouldn’t a press association be able to communicate more clearly?

And shouldn’t people who use words as tools be a little more cognizant of their meanings?

According to a conversation held at Yahoo Answers six years ago, a fan is not an electronic device. It is an electrical one because it has a motor and lacks semi-conductors, whatever they are.

Now, I’m not shilling for Crist, either. Like most politicians, his nuanced use of language has kept me up more nights trying to figure out what was being said then I care to admit. And not to go all George Costanza on the topic, but as I understand contract negotiations then LF and FPA submitted a document representing an offer, Crist made notations which represented a counteroffer and placed the issue back in the sponsors’ hands.

Was the counteroffer rejected?

I can’t tell by Dean Ridings’ statement.

I would like to ask the Florida Press Association but that office is run much like one of Gov. Rick Scott’s executive agencies’ communications departments, only one person is authorized to speak, that person is not available and no one else knows anything.

In any event, according to the Times, the statement reads that someone from the Crist campaign placed Crist’s fan on stage and was told, “That no fans would be permitted.”

“Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association did not anticipate or plan for the possibility that a candidate would not honor the Debates rules. In retrospect, the Debate Partners should have been better prepared for this possibility. In addition, we regret that one candidate was allowed to take the stage and allowed to talk before the fan issue was resolved.”

Full disclosure, I produced television and radio news broadcasts and other programs for more than 20 years and my response to talk about being “better prepared” is not to accept that statement. Any experienced producer knows it is impossible to prepare for all possibilities but has a plan B, C and D ready to roll.  Producing is not unlike piloting a jet plane; have procedures in place to save the plane or show.

Furthermore, if you’ve worked in the press for the last eight years then you know about Charlie and his fan. When he was governor whenever the fan appeared then the press corps knew Crist would soon arrive.

How could anyone be surprised that Crist showed up with a fan?

The important question may be who objected to the fan and why?

Then again, maybe I have a bone to pick with the Florida Press Association. Like I told the person who answered the phone but said she didn’t really work there, “No wonder our industry is dying.”