Much has been made about the presence of a fan during a debate between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist, with the story becoming instant fodder for liberals to go after the Republican politician.
The debate was scheduled for Wednesday night, but was delayed from starting for seven minutes because Scott was conspicuously absent — a delay that has been dubbed “Fan-gate.”
And while a lot of hot air has been blown about, it’s beginning to look as if Scott may have been had.
When the debate went live, neither candidate was on the stage. As the debate moderator, Eliott Rodriguez, told the audience “we have an extremely peculiar situation,” Crist suddenly walked out alone. This prompted the puzzled host to call for Scott.
“We have been told that Gov. Scott will not be participating in this debate,” he announced a moment later.
Rodriguez went on to explain that there was an issue over whether Crist was allowed to use an electric fan or not — according to the rules, he was not.
Eventually, the governor did walk out and the debate started, but liberals like Rosie O’Donnell and Jon Stewart saw an opportunity and seized it.
“He should have just walked out,” O’Donnell said on The View. “Why didn’t he walk out? He was being a baby. He looked like an asshole.”
And that was the narrative, that the governor was being petty — and the optics were not in his favor as the national media ran with it.
But is there more to the story? And is it possible that Scott was set up?
Scott made an appearance Thursday on CNN and told host Wolf Blitzer he was waiting to be told to come out and when asked who told him not to go out, Scott answered, “The organizers, they said he [Crist] wasn’t going to show up, he was balking without his fan.”
Scott’s campaign manager Melissa Sellers also insisted the governor “never refused to take the stage,” saying they did not know that Crist had taken the stage.
A claim supported by the debate organizers, Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association, who released a statement Thursday saying Scott never refused to go on stage.
“Rather, the Scott campaign was waiting on resolution of the rules issue before Scott took the stage,” the statement said.
The organizers also confirmed that Crist did violate the rules of the debate.
According to Sunshine State News columnist Nancy Smith, the governor may have been hoodwinked.
“Scott did not refuse to go on stage because of the fan,” Smith wrote. “He was told by the sponsors to wait until the rules violation was sorted. It was the sponsors who ordered the delay.”
“What’s more, I am now convinced the governor was set up like a bowling pin on a maple plank,” she continued. “Charlie knew exactly the mayhem his fan was causing, and figured out how to make it work in his favor.”
Smith pointed to the fact that organizer allowed Crist to take the stage and speak while the issue was supposedly being resolved. While it remains to be seen if Crist did make it work in his favor, Florida voters should be given the whole story before casting their ballots.
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