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DAVIE (CBSMiami) — As the audience waited for the gubernatorial debate to begin,  former Florida Governor Charlie Crist walked on stage without his opponent Florida Governor Rick Scott.

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Scott delayed the start of a debate because of an electric fan below Crist’s podium.

(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

Crist was alone on the stage for about five minutes Wednesday night at Broward College because Scott said Crist’s fan violated a rule against the use of electronic devices.

Scott’s campaign later released a statement about the fan issue saying, “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. Crist should buy a fan for the 832,000 Floridians who lost their jobs while he was governor.” 

Click here to watch the full debate.

Crist always uses an electronic fan at public appearances to avoid sweating.  Crist’s campaign produced a contract that had a hand written amendment saying he might bring a little fan. Debate organizers did not object.

“With exactly the agreement to have a fan if it was hot. It was hot. We had a fan. Rick Scott showed enormous pettiness in deciding to deprive people of the state of Florida a debate simply because the other guy wanted to be a little comfortable,” said Former Senator Dan Gelber who is part of the Crist campaign.

Meantime, panelists had a panicky moment including CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez who was the moderator for the debate.

“I’m thinking where do we go from here. Do we tap dance? But it was extremely uncomfortable and I thought we lost seven minutes that we could have used,” said Rodriguez.

READ: CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez On Moderating The Gubernatorial Debate 

Crist called Scott’s position ridiculous. The Republican governor eventually strode on stage. Crist kept the fan. Once Scott walked out, the two began.

(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

Click here to watch Gary Nelson’s report. 

Through a sometimes awkward debate, the two candidates Crist fought over everything from self-defense laws and the economy to the use of Crist’s electric fan.  The candidates continued the attacks on each other in what is marked already as a nasty campaign.

There is little common ground between Scott and Crist, which Crist noted after both men talked about their faith in God.

“I’m happy to be a Methodist, too. Maybe it’s the only thing we agree on, Rick,” said Crist, who preceded Scott as governor before he switched parties from Republican to Democrat.

The candidates disagreed on gay marriage and Florida’s “stand your ground” law, as well as how each has handled education and the environment. They also blamed each other for rising utility costs.

When the candidates were asked if justice was served when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin last year, Crist used the opportunity to suggest amending the stand your ground law, which allows use of deadly force if people are in fear for their lives.

“Everyone believes in that American premise and it is the right thing to do to defend yourself and your property,” Crist said. “But when it gets to the point where you have a statute on the books that allows the instigator … to end up killing another human being after they started the incident, there is something fundamentally wrong with that law.”

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Scott said Martin’s death was tragic, but the law should remain as is.

“I believe in the right to defend yourself. I can’t imagine losing a child like that but I have talked to sheriffs and police chiefs,” Scott said. “I stand with them that we need to have the existing law in place.”

Click here to watch CBS4’s Irika Sargent talk about social media in the gubernatorial debate. 

As he has done throughout the campaign, Scott blamed Crist for rising unemployment during the recession and took credit for lower unemployment during the recovery.

“Charlie is the zero-wage governor: 832,000 people went from wages to zero wages when Charlie was governor,” Scott said.

Crist quickly shot back.

“Rick, there you go again, trying to blame the global economic meltdown on me. It is unbelievable that he would continue to say that, but he says it. And he also says he created all these new jobs all by himself,” said Crist. “You just can’t trust Rick. And it’s sad. It’s unfortunate.”

Scott also tried to blame Crist for a law that allowed Duke Energy to collect money from customers for a nuclear power plant on Florida’s Gulf Coast that will never be built.

“That’s not true. That was Jeb Bush,” Crist said to audience applause.

Bush signed the bill in 2006 that Scott referred to, but Crist signed a separate bill amending the law to add language that also allowed power plants to charge customers for the cost to run transmission lines from nuclear power plants.

READ: Locals & Lawmakers React To The Gubernatorial Debate 

Scott was asked if Florida’s constitutional ban on gay marriage was discriminatory, but he refused to directly answer the question, even when asked a second time. He did say he supports traditional marriage.

Crist said he supports gay marriage.

“Who is it for us to tell other people who to love and what is it in our right to tell other people who to marry?” Crist said.

Scott then pointed out Crist supported the gay marriage ban when it passed in 2008.

“We don’t know what Charlie believes on this issue because he’s taken every side on this issue,” Scott said.

The debate is the second between the two candidates.

Click here to get more information on the debate.

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