It was probably the most attention-grabbing start of a debate in modern political history.
Charlie Crist and Rick Scott faced off Wednesday in the second of three debates, which could mean the difference in a razor-thin Florida gubernatorial contest.
The hour-long debate, sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association, was all ready to go at Broward College in Davie.
But from the beginning, the debate was nearly derailed – by an electric fan.
After Crist entered the stage promptly at the 7 p.m. start time, moderator Eliott Rodriguez of CBS4 made a strange announcement.
Gov. Rick Scott would not be participating.
Crist had requested an electric fan placed under the podium – this being South Florida. Apparently, that was technically against debate rules against having “electronics” on stage.
Scott then refused to participate based on Crist’s violation of the rules.
After a round of cheers — this time from “fans” in the audience — Crist quipped about Scott’s “pleading the fifth one more time.” It was a reference to the governor’s well-publicized legal deposition where Scott had pled Fifth Amendment protection a total of 75 times.
Once the crowd somewhat calmed down, Scott decided to continue, and after a nearly ten-minute delay, the governor appeared on stage and the debate continued as normal. or as normal as a Florida debate can be.
Proving how much of a real-time social event this event has become, the Twitter account @CCristFan (active since 2009) updated its location to say “behind Tanman’s podium, USA.”
It ended the debate with nearly 753 follows, the number is now over 900.