Rick Scott Delays Florida Governor’s Debate With Temper Tantrum Over Fan

Florida Governors Debate

Yesterday’s debate between Florida Governor Rick Scott and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist almost didn’t happen because, well, Rick Scott was upset about a fan:

In one of the weirdest, and most Floridian moments in debate history, Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate was delayed because Republican Governor Rick Scott refused to take the stage with Democratic challenger Charlie Crist and his small electric fan. The Washington Post notes that Crist, who served as the state’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011 before switching parties, has a well-known penchant for carrying a fan at all times, but Scott claimed the device hidden under his podium violated the debate’s “no electronics rule.”

Rather than waiting for the governor to emerge, the debate started with just Crist onstage. “We have been told that Governor Scott will not be participating in this debate,” said the moderator. The crowd booed as he explained the fan situation, and the camera cut to a shot of the offending cooling device.

“That’s the ultimate pleading the fifth I have ever heard in my life,” quipped Crist, annoying the moderators, who seemed intent on debating fan rules and regulations. After a few more awkward minutes, Scott emerged, and the debate proceeded, with only one more electronics dispute. When asked why he brought the fan, Christ answered, “Why not? Is there anything wrong with being comfortable? I don’t think there is.”


Then the Scott campaign decided they actually don’t care about something as petty as a fan, despite all evidence to the contrary. “Charlie Crist can bring his fan, microwave, and toaster to debates – none of that will cover up how sad his record as governor was compared to the success of Rick Scott,” Scott campaign manager Melissa Sellers said in a statement. “Crist should buy a fan for the 832,000 Floridians who lost their jobs while he was governor.”

Here’s the video:

While this was going on the Crist campaign sent out a tweet that seemed to confirm that there was an exception for the use of a small fan under the podium, and option that seems understandable given the heat of the studio lights and such. In the end, though, this whole things seems profoundly silly and, in the end, strikes me as something of a dumb move for Scott. Leaving aside the substance of the debate, which didn’t seem to go much better for the Governor,  this pre-debate episode makes Scott look silly and petty, as the reaction of the audience made clear. Additionally, the reports of the debate in Florida’s major newspapers — The Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, and Florida Sun Times — all begin with coverage of what the Herald is calling “Fangate.” That’s what most Floridians are going to remember from last night, and to the extent it makes Scott look silly, that’s not going to help him one bit. That’s just stupid politics right there.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JoshB says:

    While I was at the gym this morning, each and every TV set to local news was discussing #fangate. I am in Tampa Bay, arguably one of the more important swing markets. It was a very boneheaded move and I hope it’s enough to swing this Crist’s way. I don’t have great love for Crist, but he is far better than Scott.

  2. LaMont says:

    I think we just got an inside glimpse of the pettiness involved in debate negotiations across this country.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:


    I witnessed (was thankfully not involved) in two mayoral candidates first yelling at each other, then refusing to speak to each other, over a disagreement as to who would be on the right and the left side of the debate stage. Both thought that the left side (audience’s right) clearly had the optical advantage.

    It delayed the debate by 15 minutes. Fortunately for both, no one in the media found out the reason for the delay.

  4. stonetools says:

    I truly hope this is the beginning of the end for Governor Lex Luthor, who has been one of the more noxious Republican governors-anti-SSM, anti-ACA, anti-Medicaid expansion, anti-voting rights, pro whatever the gun lobby and business wants. On top of that, he is incompetent,corrupt and as we see, petty. It’s a disgrace that he is even close in this race, and its a major example of how unlimited dark money can tilt the playing field in favor of their bought and paid for candidate.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    If this was my record…I would complain about a fan too. Better the media talks about that than the real record.

  6. edmondo says:

    He’s upset about a fan? In Florida? I thought a fan was the state bird?

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Charlie Crist and his small electric fan.

    If it wasn’t for Florida this would be one extremely humorless country.

  8. JoshB says:

    I can safely say Florida is America’s Australia: crazy people, nature trying to kill you, amazing landscapes.

  9. Grewgills says:

    Crazy people, yes. Nature trying to kill you, kinda. Amazing landscapes, no, unless a lot of flat is amazing. The highest point in Florida is a landfill. That is a feature, I think, it shares with New Jersey.

  10. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    “Charlie Crist can bring his fan, microwave, and toaster to debates – none of that will cover up how sad his record as governor was compared to the success of Rick Scott,” Scott campaign manager Melissa Sellers said in a statement. “Crist should buy a fan for the 832,000 Floridians who lost their jobs while he was governor.”

    That would have been a great pre-debate comment. Post debate–day late, dollar short.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    The bad news is the debate moderator says “fan” was specifically written into the agreement as not allowed. The good news is that this story’s got legs and has gone far enough nobody’s going to care. Christ and Scott had a mutual ratfracking contest over trivia and Scott lost.

  12. JWH says:

    At least he got to air his grievances.