One thing both the Obama and Romney campaigns agree on: They don’t want CNN’s Candy Crowley acting too much like a journalist when she moderates Tuesday’s town hall-style presidential debate. According to Mark Halperin in Time, both campaigns have complained to the Commission on Presidential Debates after Crowley said in an October 5 interview with her own network’s Suzanne Malveaux that she plans to ask what sound suspiciously like follow-up questions: “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, z?’” The campaigns have agreed to a debate framework that prohibits the moderator from asking follow-up questions, Halperin reports, but “there is no evidence that Crowley did — or was ever asked to do so.”
Crowley’s sounded suspiciously journalistic in other recent interviews, too, suggesting she might dare to let the situation inform how she handles the candidates. She told the Huffington Post’s Jack Mirkinson on Wednesday, “I don’t have this, ‘no matter what, I’m not going to say anything,’ or, ‘I’m going to interrupt any time I think they say something’ … I think you have to just go with what’s happening at the moment.” Worse yet for a debate coach making suggestions based on Jim Lehrer’s laconic style or Martha Raddatz’s forcefulness, Crowley told the New York Times the thing she wants most from the candidates is the unexpected. “Sit back, drop your 12 points and surprise me with an answer.” That puts her directly at odds with both campaigns and their carefully prepared talking points.