It Appears The Candidates Want Nothing to Do With Follow-Up Questions Tonight

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In what appears to be the most disappointing thing of the Presidential debate season thus far, Slate reports that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have agreed that they should be asked no follow-up questions during tonight's debate.

According to Slate:

[Moderator Candy Crowley]'s assignment—as defined by the commission and the two campaigns—is to take a much more hands-off role than either of the two moderators who came before her. While Lehrer and Raddatz challenged Obama/Romney and Biden/Ryan with varying-degrees of follow-ups, both ultimately were given more or less free rein to ask their questions how they saw fit. Not so for Crowley, who isn't allowed to "rephrase the [audience member's] question or open a new topic ... ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate," according to a memo signed by both camps earlier this month that set the ground rules.

That memo, which was originally obtained by Time magazine (and which you can find here,) outlines these rules as such:

7 (c), IV: "The moderator will 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 invited the candidate comments during the 2 minute response period."
7 (d): "The audience members shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion, and the audience member's microphone shall be turned off after he or she completes asking the questions."

But Crowley doesn't plan to take this agreement, which doesn't appear to have her name on it anywhere, laying down. Crowley said this on CNN:

"They will call on 'Alice,' and 'Alice' will stand up and ask a question. Both candidates will answer. Then there's time for a follow-up question, facilitating a discussion, whatever you want to call it," Crowley said. "So if Alice asks oranges, and someone answers apples, there's the time to go, 'But Alice asked oranges? What's the answer to that?" Or, 'Well, you say this, but what about that?'"

Crowley also told Politico.com that “we don’t want the candidates to spout talking points. That doesn’t help voters … I’m going to react organically to what’s happening.”

Kudos to you, Candy Crowley. You deserve all the credit in the world for holding the candidates to actually giving responses — let's just see if you can actually make it happen.

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