What we do know for sure is that tonight’s rematch between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney might be the most entertaining debate yet. Here’s why:
1. The moderator
The debate moderators this election season have taken on a celebrity of their own. Both Jim Lehrer and Martha Raddatz received an overwhelming amount of attention for how they conducted themselves during the first two debates — in dramatically different ways. Tuesday’s debate will be moderated by Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent. Crowley herself has come under scrutiny from both the Romney and the Obama campaigns, who are worried that she will take too much liberty during the moderation process.
Here’s what the Current.com community had to say about it:
“… according to Time’s Mark Halperin, is that Crowley has publicly said that she intends to play an active role in the debate, rather than just let the audience at the town hall ask 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?’”
After seeing some of those comments, Halperin wrote, both the Obama and Romney campaigns cried foul, complaining to the CPD. However, Crowley is not specifically ordered to follow the rules set out by the MOU. But it would appear that debate control is something both campaigns can find common ground about. It remains to be seen whether their extremely public attempt to corral Crowley will work or not.
2. Debate etiquette
A glance in the wrong direction, a step too close to your opponent, clumsily avoiding the question: Any slight misstep can have huge consequences that can cost votes and taint reputations. Here are memorable town hall debate moments.
George H.W. Bush checked his watch and appeared irreverent while a woman asked a question about how the national debt impacted the lives of each candidate. (Watch: http://youtu.be/hBrW2Pz9Iiw)
John McCain, while answering a question about energy, called Obama “that one,” which was seen as dehumanizing to then-Sen. Obama. (Watch: http://youtu.be/lNzA9LfMlmU)
3. People skills
Romney may have been declared the winner of the first presidential debate, but when it comes to relating to everyday people, President Obama is the clear leader. Given Romney’s lack of people skills, the town hall format could lend itself more readily to the president. Here’s our discussion of Romney awkwardly searching for the word “doughnut” with potential voters while campaigning in June.
4. Reproductive rights
Romney has not said whether he would uphold the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and his running mate, Paul Ryan, actually voted against it. Romney has also pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade. This presents a unique opportunity for the president to tell women he’s fighting for our reproductive freedom and, as Jennifer Granholm said, “call out Republicans for their hypocrisy on this issue of women’s freedom.”
5. The triple whammy
The town hall debate style presents a unique structure that can present quite a challenge. The candidates need to follow the moderator’s lead, appeal to the people in the room and also be cognizant of the millions of people who are watching from home.
6. The opportunity
With Election Day only 21 days away and the candidates in a dead heat, tonight’s debate is one of the last opportunities to sway voters. Will the president step it up and show us more enthusiasm this time? Will he call Romney out on inconsistencies and lies, which he did not do during the first debate? You’ll have to tune in tonight to find out!
Tune in to Current TV’s Politically Direct 2012 presidential debate coverage tonight at 8E/5P.