Rick Scott has already lost the Florida governor's race to his foe, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.
At least that's what some folks who saw Wednesday night's debate, a fantastic bit of political theater dubbed "fangate," are saying.
The Florida gubernatorial race is one of the closest, and most closely-watched, races in the country, so a lot was riding on the debate.
The debate, however, almost didn't happen – because of a fan. Crist had a small portable fan underneath his podium to keep cool under the hot stage lights. Scott saw the fan as a violation of the debate's rules and said he wouldn't participate. He refused to walk out onto the stage for a full seven minutes.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now,” moderator Elliott Rodriguez, a local news anchor, said. ” … We have been told that Gov. Scott will not be participating in this debate. Gov. Crist has asked to have a fan — a small fan — placed underneath his podium. The rules that I was given by the Scott campaign says there should be no fan.” He paused. “Somehow, there is a fan there.”
Crist, not surprisingly, took advantage of the awkward situation. "Are we really going to debate a fan?" he said. "Or are we going to talk about education, and the environment and the future of our state? I mean, really.”
Several minutes later, Scott walked out, the debate began, and the moderators and candidates moved on.
But the rest of America still hasn't.
The incident blew up on social media with a firestorm of tweets, many of which indicated Scott blew it.
How bad is "fangate" for Scott?
Less than three weeks from the election, it's safe to say it's damaging.
In fact, as peculiar as Scott's behavior was Wednesday night, Crist is no slacker in the Bizarro World department.
Scott's penchant for rule-following is matched only by Crist's fan-fanaticism. Crist is something of a sweat-phobe, as Terrence McCoy explains in a Washington Post piece "The truth of #fangate and why Charlie Crist hates to sweat."
McCoy describes benching weights with Crist, "a man of boundless fastidiousness who will do almost anything to keep from looking frazzled," at 6 a.m. one morning.
"[W]hat I recall most was that Crist, even when red-faced and benching 170 pounds, didn’t sweat. Not one bead. It was miraculous," writes McCoy.
Enter Crist's portable fans, a veritable army of Vornado Air Circulators that keep Crist looking cool, calm, and composed wherever he goes, whether its on CNN for an interview, to a park to toss footballs, in the gym - or onstage for a debate.
Crist's fan even has its own Twitter account, “Charlie Crist’s Fan,” that calls itself “Tanman’s only friend. I go wherever he goes. I keep him calm, cool and sweat-free. My job demands that I be discreet as ****."
But maybe, just maybe Richard Nixon would have trounced John F. Kennedy during that first, fateful, sweat-filled television debate on Sept. 26, 1960, if he had his own personal Vornado Air Circulator.