The Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Florida, Alex Sink, is facing some embarrassing questions today after a camera caught her breaking the rules in last night’s televised debate with Republican Rick Scott. Sink, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, fired a campaign staffer after he tried to slip her a note during a commercial break in the debate, which was a direct violation of pre-arranged rules.
But the moment wasn’t the only time in the debate that Sink appeared to rely on outside help — and it wasn’t Sink’s most embarrassing fail of the debate, either. That came earlier, when Sink and Scott bombed a question on the minimum wage in spectacularly humiliating fashion.
First the cheating. Here’s what happened, as reported by debate co-moderator Adam Smith of the Miami Herald:
If you watched the debate, you may have noted Rick Scott accusing the Alex Sink campaign of slipping her a note against the rules. He’s correct. Violating their mutual agreement against notes, Sink makeup artist came in during a commercial break and showed her a phone with a message: “The attorney who [w]on the Sykes suit said alex sink did nothing wrong. Tell not to let him keep talking about her.”
Here’s video of Sink’s team doing a poor job slipping her a secret message from CNN, which broadcast the debate during a episode of John King USA:
Today, Sink has been forced to admit to the cheating, and fire the staffer she claims was responsible for the illicit phone appearance. She also said she got no help from the message, telling reporters today “she didn’t know about the message or its contents until she was shown the message,” according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Scott, predictably, has decided not to let the incident go. He told the Times that Sink “should have taken responsibility by saying, ‘Look, I made a mistake. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it.'”
Scott’s campaign, meanwhile, “is passing around an ‘iCheat’ graphic that includes Alex Sink’s picture on an iPhone screen.”
Regardless of Sink’s knowledge of what was on the phone or whether or not she used it in the debate, it seems pretty clear she tried to piggyback on a Scott answer at least once last night. And that produced what might have been the most cringe-worthy moment for supporters of either nominee.
“What’s the minimum wage in Florida, Mr. Scott?” Smith asked near the end of the debate.
“$7.55!” Scott said quickly and confidently.
“Ms. Sink is that right?” Smith asked.
“Yes,” she said, with a similar degree of confidence.
“$7.25,” Smith said, correcting both candidates with Florida’s actual minimum wage rate.
“Close,” Smith added.
Watch (the minimum-wage cringing begins at 1:58):
The TPM Poll Average shows Scott leading 44.9-43.8.