Presidential Debate 2
Tonight is the second Presidential talkfest cum “debate” managed by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Tonight’s event, hosted by Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, will feature former Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama in a town hall-style question and answer session moderated by Candy Crowley of CNN. As with all the debates, tonight’s festivities will start at 9:00 PM EDT (6:00 PM PDT) and are scheduled for 90 minutes.
There has been much criticism of the moderators in the two previous debates: in the Denver Demolition Derby (Presidential Debate #1, on October 3), PBS’ Jim Lehrer was passive to the point of allowing both candidates to overrun the rules and the time constraints. In the Kentucky Confrontation, the sole Vice Presidential debate, CBS’ Martha Raddatz was accused (primarily by conservatives) of losing control of the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Janesville, WI). CNN commenter and Redstate pundit Erick Erickson tweeted during the debate that Raddatz was “atrocious”. In a testy exchange the next day between CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and Erickson, Erickson said Raddatz was “horrible”, to which O’Brien responded, “I think you have lost your mind”.
Much is at stake. After the Denver Demolition Derby, Romney experienced a surge of support, erasing President Obama’s “convention bounce” and moving him into the lead over the President in some national polls. According to Nate Silver, Romney’s bounce was on the high side of normal for challengers after the first debate.
Just as the right attacked Raddatz prophylactically before the Vice-Presidential debate, both sides are attacking Crowley for public statements she has made regarding her intent to vigorously participate in the town hall as a moderator.
Time’s Mark Halperin reports that both campaigns are upset by the prospect of an aggressive Crowley. The audience will be made up of independents selected by the Gallup Organization. According to the memorandum of understanding between the campaigns and the Commission, the attendees will ask a question; each candidate will be given two minutes to respond. Then, Crowley is to moderate a discussion between the two candidates.
According to the rules set forth by the Commission (obtained by Time and quoted by Politico), Crowley is not supposed to
rephrase the question or open a new topic … ask follow-up questions … or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.
However, in a Politico interview, Crowley proposes that she take on a much more active role.
I understand that I’m there. I’m not a fly on the wall. We don’t want the candidates to spout talking points. That doesn’t help voters … I’m going to react organically to what’s happening.
Halperin calls the (perhaps faux) outrage of both campaigns a “rare example of political unity”.
What will happen tonight? Will Crowley’s muscular moderation approach cross the line into intrusiveness? Or does she just mean to keep the question and answer session on track? Will President Obama be able to recover from what pundits called a poor, lackluster October 3 performance? Tune in and comment here live (Disqus will be turned on again, to manage the volume of comments expected, and so older comments will be unavailable today).
- Everyone in Politics Can Agree: Candy Crowley Needs to Watch Out
- Will Crowley Moderate Like Raddatz?
- Eyeing Candy
- Candy Crowley And The Presidential Debates’ Gender Trouble
- Will Candy Crowley Moderate or ‘Moderate’ Tomorrow Night’s Presidential Debate?
- Both Campaigns Concerned Over Candy Crowley As Debate Moderator
- Both Campaigns Are Worried Debate Moderator Candy Crowley Will Act Like a Journalist