Why are Obama and Romney scared of Candy Crowley, the debate moderator?

Both candidates appear to be quaking in their boots that they might have to answer follow-up questions. Photo: Governor Romney (L) and President Obama (R) agree on one thing AP

WASHINGTON, October 15, 2012 — President Obama and Mitt Romney finally agree on something: They are both scared to death that Candy Crowley, the moderator of Tuesday’s debate, will ask them follow-up questions. No kidding.

They, through their lawyers, have gone whining to the Commission on Presidential Debates that they worry Crowley, the first woman debate moderator in 20 years, will request that they actually answer the question.

This town hall debate will consist of 20 questions by undecided, but likely voters from the floor of the auditorium at Hofstra University on Long Island. They have been encouraged to ask questions of both candidates on issues that they feel haven’t yet been fully addressed.

Enter Crowley, who has said she will ask follow-up questions if the candidate strays off topic or does not specifically answer the question.

Foul, cry the two candidates, again through their lawyers.

The format that the candidates signed onto stipulates that after a member of the audience asks a question, the candidate then gives a two-minute answer with additional discussion to be facilitated by Crowley. 

But under no circumstances is she to add her two sentences, like asking for specifics.

However, Crowley has indicated in several interviews that she will ensure that the candidates in the ensuing discussion answer the question or answer it more precisely, not allowing the candidate to dodge an issue. Now here is the Catch 22: It seems, that while the two candidates did sign onto the format, Crowley was never asked to sign such an agreement and therefore is not bound by the same rules.

Thank goodness for that.

The American voter is tired of the candidates lapsing into talking points, irrelevant issues, switching topics, or outright fibbing. Crowley, a respected veteran journalist with CNN, plans to make the candidates accountable, something long overdue in the debates and on the stump. As 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 and Z “[T]hey launch the discussion and then the moderator furthers the discussions.” 

Even more ironic than the two candidates standing shoulder to shoulder to fight Candy Crowley, the media on the Right and the Left and Center are in agreement that this protest by the two candidates is malarkey.

Perhaps  Greta van Susteren, Fox News host of “On the Record,” summed it up best in her blog: “That is bizarre that they are complaining. What are they both afraid of? A surprise question? a tough question? or worse, a follow up question that challenges them?  That is exactly what the American people want in a debate.” 

So what are Obama and Romney afraid of? Are they terrified Crowley might go rogue on them? 

More likely they are worried about the possibility that – gasp! – they might be forced to say something that takes them out of their comfort zone, and we might actually get to see the man behind the campaign curtain. They seem to feel imperiled that without the security blanket of their memorized talking points, they just might make a Biden gaffe or worse yet be revealed for who they really are.

Hey, guys, here’s a flash! That is the whole point of the debates: to learn what you stand for. If you can’t take a little bit of tough questioning on your core beliefs, then just who the heck are you?

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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