The organizers of Wednesday's statewide TV debate between Gov. RIck Scott and Charlie Crist released a statement Thursday saying that Crist's insistence on having a portable electric fan was a violation of debate rules.
The statement from Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association reads in part:
"Both campaigns received 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 Scott campaign signed and returned the letter on Thursday, October 9. The Crist campaign signed and returned the letter on Monday, October 13, but with the added 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."
The statement said the temperature at Bailey Hall at Broward College was 67 degrees at the time of the debate.
"Between 6 and 6:20 p.m., someone from the Crist campaign placed a fan under Charlie Crist’s podium, and they were again told that no fans would be permitted," the statement said. "Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association did not anticipate or plan for the possibility that a candidate would not honor the Debate 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."