Alex Sink cheats in Florida debate. Will it matter?
During a commercial break in a debate with Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott Monday night, Democrat Alex Sink received a text message from an aide. The 'foul' may be a touchstone for some voters.
Yes, Alex Sink cheated in Monday’s Florida gubernatorial debate. It was inadvertent, apparently – during a break, the Democratic candidate’s make-up artist handed her a smartphone showing a two-line message from a campaign aide.Skip to next paragraph
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Republican opponent Rick Scott was all over the mistake (“That was a foul, ref! She was offsides! Offsides!”) and talked about it after the debate went back on the air.
“Alex, you say you always follow the rules,” said Mr. Scott, a former health-care executive. “The rule was no one was supposed to give us messages during the break, and your campaign did."
There was not much Ms. Sink could do there. She was caught red-handed with the offending text-capable communications device. After the debate, she fired the aide in question.
“After the debate tonight, one of my campaign advisers admitted he tried to communicate with me during one of the breaks... it was a foolish thing to do. It violated a debate agreement and I immediately removed him from the campaign,” said Sink in a statement.
This dust-up raises a number of interesting questions, such as:
- It was OK to get make-up fixed during commercial breaks, but not OK to exercise a "lifeline" for help with an answer? Appearance is at least as important as substance during debates – look at what happened to the ill, pale Richard Nixon when he went up against a tan and rested JFK. Of course, the two sides agreed on those rules, so maybe pancake makeup and a little hair gel were priorities. It gets hot up there under lights and televised pressure, after all.
- Will this matter? After all, small things can loom large in voters’ minds following a debate. All anyone remembers from the 1988 vice-presidential debate is the “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” line delivered by Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, for instance. Plus, cheating in debates – or at least getting caught cheating at debates – is rare. So it’s possible Sink might suffer some damage at the polls.