Florida Wins for Most Awkward Midterm Debate Moment

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Two candidates for governor in one of the nation’s largest and most diverse states held a substantive debate over economic and social issues Wednesday night, but all most people will remember will be the fan.

Here’s what happened: Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott initially refused to participate in the debate, apparently because Democrat Charlie Crist insisted that he have a small electric fan on stage with him.

The forum’s moderators sputtered in disbelief over the awkward false start as Crist stood alone on the stage. Scott’s objection: The rules of the debate required that no electronic devices be used by the candidates.

Queried about those rules, Crist replied: “Are we really going to debate about a fan? Or are we going to talk about education, and the environment and the future of our state?”

Scott eventually emerged, and the two sparred over jobs, the environment and health care.

But with a boost from social media (Twitter handle @CCristFan amassed over 1,000 followers by the next morning), the moment has defined a debate in one of the most closely-watched races in the country.

— Carrie Dann