Obama, Romney camps both worried that Candy Crowley will ask questions


CNN's Candy Crowley at the AWRT Gracie Awards Gala in 2009.

President Obama and Mitt Romney have come together to fight for a common cause -- limiting the role of debate moderator Candy Crowley in Tuesday's town hall.

Time reports both campaigns agreed that the moderator would “not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate or otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.” 

But Crowley herself was not involved in that agreement, and the two campaigns have expressed concern that some of her recent comments suggest she plans to take a larger role in the forum. 

"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?" Crowley told CNN last week. "[T]hey launch the discussion and then the moderator furthers the discussions." 

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Crowley elaborated, saying, "I hope that I can add to this conversation. I hope that I can say, "well, now that you've said that, though, doesn't that bring up this?"

The Commission on Presidential Debates told the campaigns that "they would discuss the matter with Crowley and reconfirm her function," Time reports. 

Asked about the Time report Monday, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki would not comment, saying only that the president is "prepared for and is ready to take questions from wherever they come."

"That is bizarre that they are complaining," Fox News host Greta van Susteren wrote on her blog in response. "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." 

 Carole Simpson, who moderated a town hall debate in 1992, lamented in a recent op-ed that Crowley would be “the lady holding the microphone" -- just as she was two decades ago, the last time a woman moderated a presidential debate.

There was similar wrangling around the town hall in 2008, moderated by Tom Brokaw, with Sen. John McCain's campaign complaining that the NBC News anchor asked too many of his own questions.  

Read more from PostPolitics:

Fact Checker: Digging deeper into the clash over Medicare in the VP debate

Poll: Race for president remains close nationally

Monday Fix: At second debate, pressure will be on Obama

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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Rachel Weiner · October 15, 2012