ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — In one of his first public appearances since his trusty fan took center stage during a debate, Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist made hay of the dust-up during a rally with Michelle Obama on Friday.
Crist drew big laughs from an estimated crowd of 700 supporters in Orlando when he pointed to the fan and said, "It's right here."
"It's all good. You're my fan," the former governor said as the fan — hidden by drapes and a fern on the podium — blew beneath him.
Crist has been taking a portable fan to campaign events for years, and it even has its own Twitter account. Crist mentioned it on page 3 of his biography, as he described the Democratic National Convention speech he gave after switching parties. He wrote: "I always like a fan at the podium when I give a big speech. You have no idea how hot those TV lights can be."
But the nation got wind of his portable companion when incumbent Gov. Rick Scott waited seven minutes before appearing onstage for the debate because Crist insisted on having the fan plugged in below his lectern. Before they had left the stage, #Fangate was a thing.
Scott's campaign manager Melissa Sellers insisted after the debate that the governor "never refused to take the stage."
The post-debate spin included this quote from Sellers: "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."
On Friday, in the home stretch of the race, Mrs. Obama, one of the party's most sought after campaigners, didn't mention the fan, but did pump up Crist, who served one term as Florida governor as a Republican, but is running this time as a Democrat.
"There's a reason Charlie was known as 'The People's Governor.' It's because Charlie gets it," Mrs. Obama said.
In Miami Gardens, Mrs. Obama, whose appearance is a sign of the race's importance to national Democrats, urged more than 1,000 supporters who were packed into a recreational gymnasium to summon the energy and enthusiasm they brought to her husband's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
"If we want to finish what we started then we need to elect Charlie Crist governor of Florida," Mrs. Obama, imploring the mostly African-American crowd to defy historical precedent and turn out to vote in the midterm elections.
Associated Press writer Michael Mishak in Miami Gardens contributed to this report.
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