Florida governor debate takes bizarre turn

The fight for the governor's office in Florida took a bizarre turn at a debate last night when Governor Rick Scott refused to come out and face his Democratic challenger.

Now the dispute, which could make a difference in the very close race, is getting a lot of attention around the country, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

The hour-long debate was delayed for more than six minutes because Charlie Crist was using an illegal fan, according to the rules.

"Governor Crist has asked to have a fan a small fan placed underneath his podium," the moderator said. "The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign say that there should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there and for that reason, ladies and gentlemen; I am being told that Governor Scott will not join us for this debate."

As the audience sent out a slew of boos and jeers, Democrat Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor himself, jumped at the chance to have the spotlight.

"Are we really going to debate about a fan or are we going to debate over education, the environment and the future of our state?" he asked. "I mean really."

The moderators were bewildered.

"Governor ... this is not a platform for one candidate," the moderator said. "We're hoping Governor Scott will join us on the stage."

But moments later, Scott appeared. The candidates shook hands and got down to business.

"Why not?" Crist asked. "Is there anything wrong with being comfortable? I don't think there is."

When Scott took the stage, he couldn't quite explain the reason for his delay.

"Well I waited, we feared when he was gonna show up, he said he wasn't going to come to the debate," Scott said.

In the end, Crist kept the fan.

The latest Tampa Bay Times poll shows these two men in a dead heat, tied at 40 percent.

Absentee voting has already begun and early in-person voting starts on Monday.