Florida tried to have a debate of the real issues between Governor Rick Scott and his opponent Charlie Crist, but it was thwarted by a fan. No, not a human fan of either politician, but a mechanical fan under Charlie Crist's podium. The Scott campaign didn't want the fan to be there, so the Governor refused to come onstage for many minutes, leaving Crist to just smile at the audience while the question panel seemed in a quandary about what to do next. Finally Scott stumbled onto the stage with some lame excuse, but it was too late. The Twitterverse had coined #Fangate and #Fantrum, and the rest is part of Florida election history.
Basically, Governor Scott beclowned himself with a fan.
Viewers who tuned in Wednesday night to watch Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Crist (once a Republican, now a Democrat) instead saw an empty stage, with moderators explaining about "an extremely peculiar situation." Within seconds Crist strode out and spent the next several minutes lamenting Scott's absence, and how it was ridiculous to argue over the fan at the base of Crist's podium when Florida faced so many important issues, before Scott finally joined him and the debate began.
But what TV viewers didn't know was that Scott's campaign was so agitated about the fan that it was demanding the event be canceled and that the TV station providing the live feed not proceed with the broadcast.
"Why? Who knows? Your guess is as good as mine," Wendy Walker, head of one of the debate's co-sponsors, Leadership Florida, told NPR Friday. "They had a bee in their bonnets about the fan.... I said, guys, do you want the story to be the fan?"
From the Miami Herald
“It was a missed opportunity. It was very odd,” said Fort Lauderdale lawyer Ed Pozzuoli, a Scott ally and former Broward County GOP chairman who echoed numerous Republicans. “Gov. Scott has a record that he needs to extol at every opportunity, and the only thing being discussed now is the fan.”
. . . Scott didn’t show until 7:07. He told CNN’s Wolf BlitzerThursday that he was told not to go on stage by “organizers.”
Rather than staging a brief boycott, Pozzuoli said, Scott should have used humor to defuse the controversy: “He would have gotten a lot more mileage out of it,” he said.
Instead, the flap became a social media punch line and the talk of morning cable TV shows. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, viewers saw the video and an incredulous Mike Barnicle asked: “What’s wrong with these people? The governor of Florida demanding no fan?”
Scott tries to Gov-splain, but Fails:
Watch Colbert on #fangate: "This being Florida, right off the bean, things got very Florida" http://t.co/O2uaQqTLhX pic.twitter.com/CTAWi9oSlJ
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) October 18, 2014
. . . Why should Crist get to cool himself with a fan, but Scott isn't allowed to control his
~ Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central
He hates these FANS! (Paraphrasing The Jerk) #FLGovDebate #RickScott http://t.co/NhtB7i0iqm
— Jeanne K. (@SnarkAmendment) October 16, 2014