Democrat Charlie Crist said “Fangate” proved Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) doesn’t deserve to be re-elected. Scott, of course, spun the debate flap instantly known nationwide as “Fangate” in a different direction.
The media, which loves to label, slapped the “Fangate” nameplate on the Oct. 15 debate between the gubernatorial candidates that was delayed first while a campaign aide frantically searched for a fan to be placed at the former Florida governor’s feet and then while Scott decided whether he would protest Crist’s fan.
Scott said the fan — which the audience could not see — or any electrical appliance violated the agreed-upon rules of the debate, and told reporters following the debate he wasn’t sure if “Charlie was going to show up.”
However, after the debate — Crist and Scott did engage in a spirited 90-minute exchange of ideas once the fan matter was settled — Melissa Sellers, the Scott for Florida campaign manager, had another explanation of why the event was delayed.
“So, let’s get one thing clear: Rick Scott never refused to take the stage and debate,” she said in a statement. “In fact, our campaign was not notified Charlie had even taken the stage because the last we heard Crist was in an ‘emergency meeting’ with debate organizers pleading for his precious fan.”
“Crist should buy a fan for the 832,000 Floridians who lost their jobs while he was governor. That is almost a million Floridians who lost their jobs, and many their homes, under Governor Charlie Crist. With a terrible record on jobs, is it any wonder Charlie is worried about breaking out in a sweat? “ Sellers added.
Stephen Colbert speculated that Crist needed a fan because his core body temperature is something north of 400 degrees.
The debate delay, which challenged SNL to come up with a funnier parody than the real thing, came in the middle of an active week for both candidates.
Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama took part in Crist campaign rallies, while Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) campaigned for Scott.
Biden told an audience at a campaign rally in Broward County that raising the minimum wage would be good for the economy and good for business.
“No one who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty. It’s wrong,” he said.
In Boca Raton, Biden addressed climate change, Medicaid, the middle class and the economy during an afternoon appearance. He also told his audience there was no more important gubernatorial election in America than the Crist vs. Scott race.
“The middle class is in trouble. The middle class is getting clobbered,” Biden told an audience of senior citizens. “You can see it. You can feel it. You can hear it in the voices of your children when you call them at home.”
Biden also criticized Scott’s position on climate change.
“What does he need to be convinced, Miami underwater?” Biden said.
Scott reacted to the Biden campaign rallies by challenging Crist to invite President Obama to visit Florida.
“Our state is turning around because we have done the exact opposite of Washington. We threw out the Crist-Obama playbook of higher taxes, more debt and more spending,” said Scott in a statement released by his campaign.
“I hope President Obama can make a trip to the Sunshine State soon to see the results of our pro-growth policies – even if he is not invited on the campaign trail with Charlie Crist,” Scott added.
Neither campaign backed off on its negative advertising.
Crist’s campaign team began replaying the Poor-Pee-Ple Daily Show video from two years ago when a member of Jon Stewart’s team challenged Gov. Scott to “pee into a cup.” The comedy bit was a response to Scott’s demand that welfare recipients take a drug test before receiving aid.
The Scott campaign released its “Stubborn Facts” ad that used video clips of Crist saying “facts are stubborn things” and “those are what the facts are” when the viewer sees the numbers of jobs lost in Florida and the unemployment rate while Crist was governor.
The Florida GOP released its own ad Oct. 16, “Grew Up Rich.” It claims Crist “grew up rich” and as a result can’t relate to the needs and problems of the average Florida voter.
The negative advertising is not making any friends for Crist or Scott. A WFLA/SurveyUSA poll released Oct.13 put Crist’s net favorability at minus 8, and Scott’s at minus 10.
In addition, 41 percent of likely voters polled approve of how Scott is handling his job as Florida’s governor, while 54 percent disapprove.
Crist had a 4 point lead over Scott in the SurveyUSA poll, 45 percent to 41 percent. The Tampa Bay Times poll released Oct. 14 showed the Scott-Crist race was tied and Real Clear Politics had the race as a toss-up.