Presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley’s stated intent to ask questions of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney during Tuesday night’s town hall encounter has led to concerns from both candidate’s campaign teams.
Time Magazine reported Sunday night that both campaigns have asked the Commission on Presidential Debates, which organizes each event, to make sure Crowley adhere to a format she was not involved in designing.
A memo signed by both campaigns earlier this month specifies that the moderator would not be allowed to ask the candidates follow-up questions or to rephrase or comment on the questions asked by audience members as part of the town hall format. Under this format, Crowley’s only role would be to “acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.”
That limited role contrasts with how Crowley, host of CNN’s State Of The Union, defined her function in an Oct. 12 interview with Politico.
“I understand that I’m there. I’m not a fly on the wall,” she said. “We don’t want the candidates to spout talking points. That doesn’t help voters.”
Two days earlier, she told The Huffington Post she would “just go with what was happening at the moment,” while saying that facilitating the audience’s questions was just one of her roles.
“I think it’s always best when these guys engage with each other,” Crowley said, referring to Obama and Romney. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t engage with them if that gets us closer to what we need.”
Neither campaign commented on the report Monday.
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