The debate over the debate appears to be settled. Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN will be permitted to ask follow-up questions during tonight’s town hall-style debate, despite reservations from the Romney and Obama campaigns, the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates said this afternoon.
“Our position hasn’t changed,” Frank Fahrenkopf, the debate co-chairman, said in an interview. “It’s exactly as we understood it when we announced the format and the moderator in July.”
Representatives of the two campaigns agreed among themselves that they wanted Crowley’s role to be limited to merely directing questions to President Obama and Mitt Romney from audience members during the debate at Hofstra University in New York. But the debate commission and Crowley never agreed to such a stipulation, Fahrenkopf said; instead, Crowley will “facilitate discussion,” meaning she can address a candidate’s answer after an audience member has asked his or her question, though she cannot introduce a new topic.
The campaigns met with the debate commission to express their concerns after the vice presidential debate last week in Kentucky and again yesterday in New York. But Fahrenkopf said no new restrictions would be permitted. “It’s full speed ahead,” he said.