The Washington Post

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.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.