A brief moment during a break Monday night in the Florida gubernatorial debate became the focus of next-day stories after one candidate accused his opponent of cheating.
The debate's moderator, John King of CNN, posted video of the moment on his blog. Both candidates were being primped by makeup and hair people, and at one point, the makeup artist working on Democrat Alex Sink showed her a smart phone. Sink read something on the phone as her Republican opponent, Rick Scott, whose bald pate was being powdered, turned to CNN political editor Mark Preston.
"So we can get notes?" Scott asked. "We can have people who work for us give us messages?"
"No," replied Preston.
"Right there with the BlackBerry," said Scott, "she was shown one by that lady."
When the debate resumed, King tried to open with a question about Florida's flailing economy, but Scott interjected: "First Alex, you say you always follow the rules. The rule was no one was supposed to give us messages during the break and your campaign did with an iPad, with an iPod…."
Scott is a former executive for the hospital giant Columbia/ HCA who was forced to resign after the company was charged with Medicare fraud in the late 1990s.
Sink said she had fired the advisor who sent the message.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Scott's campaign circulated to reporters an "iCheat" graphic with Sink's picture on an iPhone screen. "You want to cheat at a debate?" said a Scott aide. "There's an app for that."