More attention has been paid in the 2012 presidential debate cycle to the debate moderators themselves rather than the actual candidates. CNN’s Candy Crowley is up next, and has already received a fair amount of criticism from both sides regarding her selection as moderator.
First, it was Jim Lehrer who was criticized for a soft-ball debate moderator performance. Next, Martha Raddatz for her alleged conflict of interest (she’s thought to be on the side of those lefties). Now, both the Democrats and the Republicans have raised a complaint against tonight’s debate moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, particularly over her confessed strategy heading into the town hall forum.
Time‘s Mark Halperin revealed that tonight’s “Memorandum of Understanding” (the plan for the debate) calls for the moderator to play a limited role in tonight’s debate:
“In managing the two-minute comment periods, the moderator will not rephrase the question or open a new topic … The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate 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.”
Crowley herself has admitted that she intends to play an active role in the debate, telling The Huffington Post:
“I think the idea is to try to add to the body of knowledge that is out there in whatever way you can. I think it’s always best when these guys engage with each other, but that doesn’t mean I won’t engage with them if that gets us closer to what we need.”
Crowley appeared on The Situation Room to answer the criticisms against her, and the complaints lodged by both the Obama and Romney campaigns to the Commission on Presidential Debates regarding her selection as debate moderator.
“There will be questioners to the right and left of me and in front of the candidates,” Crowley told Wolf Blitzer. “And they will have the questions. And as was the case in the Charlie Gibson town hall meeting and the Tom Brokaw town hall meeting in Presidential campaigns past, there is a time after that for follow-up and for furthering the discussion.”
Here are some videos discussing the role of the debate moderator, followed by Candy Crowley’s CNN follow-up with Wolf Blitzer regarding her role in tonight’s town hall forum: