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Debate: Keeping Candy From Babies

Presidential candidates: want us to think you can stand up to Ahmadinejad?
Start by showing you aren’t afraid of Candy Crowley.

Time Magazine reports that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have complained to the Commission on Presidential Debates that Candy Crowley of CNN, the moderator for tomorrow night’s debate, has the temerity to think that she might ask some questions.

The debate, which will be held at Hoftra University, is designed to be town hall style — with members of the public asking questions.  Crowley apparently caused the campaigns to gasp when she said on the air last week:  “Once the table is kind of set by the town-hall questioner, there is time for me to say, “Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, and Z?”

No fair! the campaigns cried.  Apparently they had previously negotiated an agreement with the Debate Commission in which the moderator’s role would not get past A, B, & C…let alone X, Y, and Z.  That being the case — they should have selected Ryan Secrest to be the moderator rather than booking a skilled journalist like Crowley.

To us, there seem to be a couple important lessons here.  Number one — neither campaign is very good at negotiating.  They apparently made this agreement with the Commission without bothering to ensure that the moderator also agreed and would comply.

But more importantly, they seem to prefer one-off questions from the public rather than risk a follow up from a journalist.  Each side apparently believes that they can handle the batting practice softballs thrown at them from citizen questioners and are confident that no member of the public is likely to waste their one shot at stardom by ditching their own question to follow up on the last person’s.

We understand why the campaigns might wish to be cautious.  While you may not be able to win the presidency in a debate — you can probably lose it.  Each campaign is devoting several days specifically to preparing their candidate. A good campaign — and a good candidate — should be able to think far enough ahead to not only predict likely questions and prepare solid answers but also to anticipate a second tier of follow-on responses in case Candy calls BS on the first answer.

Come on Team Obama and Team Romney.  Show some guts and demonstrate you can’t be spooked by Candy.


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