CNN's Candy Crowley Under Fire From Fearful Obama, Romney Campaigns

 

Something the presidential candidates can agree on: they want their next debate moderator to be more Jim Lehrer than Martha Raddatz.

According to Time's Mark Halperin, both the Obama and Romney campaigns have reached out to the Committee on Presidential Debates in the wake of CNN's Candy Crowley's promise to be actively involved in the discourse of Tuesday night's debate. The first woman chosen to be a presidential debate moderator in 20 years -- Raddatz officiated and facilitated last week's vice presidential quip-off -- Crowley has indicated on multiple occasions that she will use the questions posed by pre-screened undecided voters during the town hall-style debate as a launching point. That, however, would go against the spirit of the agreement to which both candidates previously agreed.

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The debate is constructed so that candidates are addressed with questions from members of the Long Island community at which the event is being held. Crowley will direct a short discussion between the two candidates after each of their answers, but it's her participation in the initial questioning that has the campaigns concerned.

The agreement -- on to which Crowley has not and is not required to sign -- states that "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."

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In the first debate, two Thursdays ago in Denver, GOP nominee Mitt Romney aggressively attacked a surprised President Obama, and was ruled the winner of the event by most media outlets and polls. But the real loser, even more so than the president, was Lehrer, who was largely steamrolled by the two candidates, especially Romney, and was not able to challenge answers or ask many follow ups.

On the other hand, Raddatz received significant praise for her performance at last week's veep debate for controlling Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Even Raddatz came under fire before her debate, as conservatives alleged that because Obama had attended her first wedding 21 years ago, she would be biased toward his running mate.

Crowley has been unbowed in her insistence that she'll control the questions of the debate -- she already will get to choose which town hall questions will be asked -- as she told The Huffington Post that she has no problem getting involved in the discussion, even if that's not her first goal.

"I really did think, in the end, I want to hear less from the moderator than I do from the candidate," she said. "I think that, in some ways, people go into it expecting that you're going to mix it up with the candidates. And I'm not saying that at some point that won't happen or that that doesn't happen. I'm just saying that the idea is to get the candidates to mix it up with each other."

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