Presidential town hall debate turns 20 as Mitt Romney, Pres. Obama prepare to meet Tuesday
"One of (Romney's) big challenges during this entire campaign has been not being able to connect with the common man, woman and child," Republican strategist Ana Navarro told CNN. "He's got to be able to come across as connecting, he's got to come across as genuine, as caring, as likable. I think we've seen a lot more of that from Mitt Romney in the last few days on the campaign."
Although both candidates will enter the debate with different goals, they've found common ground in expressing concerns with Candy Crowley, the debate moderator.
On Oct. 5, Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondent, suggested that she might question the candidates during the debate, saying that once the table is set by the town hall questioner, she would have time to step in and say, "Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?"
According to the agreement between the two campaigns posted by Time, Crowley's participation is meant to be limited, and she is not to rephrase the question or open a new topic. The agreement also specifies that the moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on the questions by the audience or the answers of the candidates, and should not intervene except to acknowledge audience questions, invite candidate comments or reinforce the time limit.
After both campaigns reached out the debate commission, the commission said it would discuss the matter with Crowley and reconfirm her function.
No matter what role the moderator plays or how the candidates perform, the power of this year's debates may be unique thanks to each candidate's strong negatives, Mark Goodman wrote at The New York Times.
"Both candidates have strong negatives — usually the death knell of a candidate," Goodman wrote. "In 2012, these strong negatives are translating into strong support for the other candidate. Or, a generally strong objection to both candidates, leaving people feeling like they must pick between two weak choices. Because of these strong negatives for both Obama and Romney, the debates may be decisive for many voters. They may find something they can support in a candidate on election day; they might find that their negative opinions are justified and so they decide not to vote."
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