The Only Three Minutes of Last Night’s Mayoral Debate That Matter

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Last night's mayoral debate was full of topics — like term limits, education, housing, etc. — that, while of vital importance, elicited responses that were fairly predictable and not altogether exciting. But for one glorious three-minute stretch, moderator Dominic Carter of NY1 forced Mayor Bloomberg and Comptroller Bill Thompson to provide simple "yes" or "no" answers on such random issues as their exercise habits, Roman Polanski, and manicures. The requirement to answer definitively also created some tough political pickles for the candidates, on questions such as "Has Obama done enough for gay rights?" and "Do you think Pedro Espada is a better majority leader than Joe Bruno?" Carter did blow a golden opportunity on one — he asked whether a family worth more than $1 million was rich, which is way too easy. We would have loved to hear the same question about $200,000. Still, we think they should hold an entire debate in the "lightning round" format, if only to see the candidates squirm for a full hour.