In what had to be the strangest start of a gubernatorial debate, Gov. Rick Scott initially refused to participate because Democrat Charlie Crist insisted on a fan to keep him cool.
The Republican governor finally emerged six minutes late as flummoxed moderators struggled to figure out what to do with only a bemused Crist standing on stage at BrowardCollege.
Here’s the transcript:
Eliot Rodriguez, CBS4 anchor and debate host: “Ladies and gentlemen we have an extremely peculiar situation right now…. We have been told that Gov. Scott will not be participating in this debate…. Gov. Crist has asked to have a fan, a small fan underneath the podium….
“The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign say that there should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there. And for that reason, ladies and gentlemen, I’ am being told that Gov. Scott will not join us for this debate.”
Boos fill the hall.
Rosemary Goudreau, Sun-Sentinel editorial page editor and moderator: “Do the rules of the debate say that there should be no fan?
Crist: “Not that I’m aware of.”
Goudreau: “So the rules that the Scott campaign just showed us that says not electronics can be used, including fans…”
Crist: “Are we really gonna debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education, and the environment and the future of our state. I mean, really.”
Rodriguez: “This is not a platform for one candidate. We’re hoping that Governor Scott will join us on the stage. And I am told that Gov. Scott will join us on the stage. In all fairness to Gov. Scott, I was shown a copy of the rules that they showed me that said there would be no fans on the podium.”
Frank Denton, Florida Times Union editor: “This is a remarkable, sort of a trivial issue no matter what side you believe you’re on.”
Scott walks on stage. Cheers follow.
Rodriguez: “Ladies and gentlemen, that has to be the most unique beginning to any debate. Not only in Florida, but I think in the country.”