Both the Romney and Obama campaigns expressed concern about debate moderator Candy Crowley.
They were right to be concerned.
The town hall-style of debate is intended to place people in a room with the candidates to ask questions which have been selected by the moderator. Candy Crowley, as moderator, therefore personally selected all of the questions asked. But instead of just selecting the questions and keeping the candidates on track, she said ahead of time that she’d play a more “active role” such as when she said:
Once the table is kind of set by the town-hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, ‘Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?
Crowley decided to play a very active role in the debate. I didn’t see her as being fair to Romney.
Here is one of the questions she selected which had no equivalent for Obama:
Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration.
Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?
I’ve watched a lot of presidential and vice presidential debates and that question burned my ears.
Romney was clearly not in friendly territory and as his debate performance continued he began to wear out.
This debate played to Obama’s strengths of being a solid public speaker and the ability to stay away from statistics and budgetary specifics and, as a result, Obama re-took the momentum that Romney had.
Romney took some big hits from the audience and from Obama. The president hammered him on Planned Parenthood, shipping jobs to China, tax cuts, and whether he mentioned “terrorism” in the Rose Garden or not.
One of the biggest problems facing Romney is very few people are going to be interested in trying to figure out how maintaining current tax rates but cutting deductions so as to keep the same 60% tax rate the “wealthy” is a good idea.
All Obama has to say is he’s going to prevent things coming back from the way they are.
What is clear from this debate is there are key differences between the two candidates but the problem is the format – and the moderator – allowed for the distortions of each man’s records to the point where nothing really made sense in the end.
We give the “win” to President Obama… 60-40.