A "memo of understanding" was signed by both candidates after negotiations. Candy Crowley, not a part of the memo of understanding, changed the agreement and declared she would ask follow-up questions, if she deemed them necessary.
Note that the memo of understanding was released to the press by Mark Halperin of TIME, not from the Commission on Presidential Debates, who negotiated the agreement with the campaigns.
Last month we noted that advocacy groups asked the Commission on Presidential debates to release the secret documents that form as the basis for the three Presidential and one Vice Presidential debates. The document, called a “memo of understanding,” is crafted by the CPD along with the Romney and Obama campaigns. The CPD declined, so TIME‘s Mark Halperin decided to release it for them. Halperin already reported that the two campaigns have taken issue with comments made by tomorrow’s debate moderator, Candy Crowley. The full document sheds light on exactly what role the moderator is supposed to play. Among the rules: Crowley is not supposed to ask any follow-ups, and may not “coach” audience questioners She may also not ask for “show of hands” questions. The Commission also says it will try and limit the angles of TV cameras by locking them into place, and by forbidding shots of family members or friends, or audience reaction shots.The audience members at this town hall were picked by the Gallup organization. Gallup claims that these voters are the ones who are likely voters who remain undecided in this election. These voters were not undecided voters, if you ask me. Either that or else the only questions Candy Crowley chose were the ones which favored responses by Obama. It was just ridiculous.
Candy Crowley turned out to be a disappointment. I enjoy her most of the time as a CNN political reporter. Tuesday night, however, she was a cheerleader for Obama, giving him a total of almost four more minutes than she gave Mitt Romney and cut off Romney at every opportunity while Obama filibustered answers. It was clearly an unbalanced debate and she frequently let it get out of control. The two candidates were, at times, overly aggressive towards each other in order to make their points and Crowley simply lost control.
We will soon know if the fact checkers will honestly judge Obama's statements on energy production, Libya and taxes. He told some whoppers. Mitt Romney pushed back effectively on most issues. On Libya, Candy Crowley felt entitled to jump to President Obama's defense and that was just wrong. She was to be impartial and she failed.
I think the debate was a tie. Mitt Romney, however, will benefit more in the end because historically whomever wins the first debate does better in the election. The second and third debates are not so important to voters, historically speaking. We will soon know if this proves true for this election. Obama had no place to go but up in this debate. His first debate was so dismal that simply coming prepared was a winning move for him. I have no doubt that the Obama-loving press will declare him the winner.
The real loser in this debate was Candy Crowley and CNN as her employer.