Alex Sink’s fortunes appear to be falling in Florida after getting caught cheating in a debate against Republican Rick Scott. She may have made matters worse by attempting to spin it later. Rather than just admit that she checked a message from a staffer when the debate rules clearly prohibited it, Sink claimed that she thought the message was from her daughter traveling abroad and fired the staffer. That prompted CNN’s John King to go CSI and look at the forensics of the debate tape.

Here’s Sink, trying to spin this on Hardball:

Well, uh, what happened was, Chris, last night that the makeup artist held up her phone and said I just got this message, I don’t know who it’s from. I looked at it because, you know, I’m a mom, my instinct is my daughter’s in Europe. I don’t know who this message is from. I glanced at it. I didn’t understand even what it was, and I just ignored it.

But that isn’t what happened at all, King reported to Wolf Blitzer:

Today she said she wasn’t sure what it was when the makeup artist handed her the phone. She thought it might have been a message from a daughter who she said was in college in [England]. But we listened very closely to the audio, and the makeup artist, when she approached Alex Sink, said I have a message from the staff. And at that point they looked, it was on a cell phone, it was two sentences. It was essentially advice after the last segment of the debate telling her if that question comes up again, remember this, and be more aggressive when Rick Scott questions you. It was two sentences.

Cheating in the debate was bad enough. Now Sink has lied about it publicly, and fired a staffer to cover up her own mistake. Small wonder that the latest Sunshine State News poll shows Scott taking a narrow lead over Sink after the debate:

Following Monday night’s debate, momentum in Florida’s race for governor appears to be slowly shifting to Rick Scott. Republican Scott jumped to a 2-point lead immediately prior to, and during, his red-hot CNN slugfest with Democrat Alex Sink.

Sunshine State News’ nightly tracking poll of likely voters shows Scott moving from a 45-45 tie with Sink on Oct. 20 to a 47-45 advantage Monday night.

Two weeks earlier (Oct. 12-13), Sink held a 48-45 advantage.

Jim Lee, president of Voter Survey Service, which conducted this and all Sunshine State News Polls, said the fundamental dynamics of the race have changed in three weeks.

“These two are so evenly matched,” Lee said, “that for the last three weeks they have traded the lead more than once — yet the election is now in Scott’s favor. I say this because Scott leads by nearly 2 points overall (46-45) — not a lot — but by 4 points (48-44) among those who say they are most likely to vote.”

Cheating and lying about cheating in such a public manner won’t help make the case for trust in Sink, either.

Tags: Florida