When CNN’s Candy Crowley was announced as the moderator of the second presidential debate back in August, she was lauded for being the first female to be selected for that honor since ABC’s Carole Simpson in 1992. That seemed to be enough of a historical footnote to recognize her role as referee — typically a thankless, forgettable role that is rightfully overshadowed by the rhetorical combatants. But after Jim Lehrer was roundly criticized for being a pushover in the first debate and Martha Raddatz seemed to respond to his passive performance by asserting herself more boldly in the vice-president’s debate, there’s suddenly a lot of pressure on Crowley to strike the right balance.
Her job won’t be easy. The format of tonight’s debate is town-hall style, meaning she’ll have to juggle questions from audience members as well as the more freewheeling back-and-forth between the candidates. Adding to her challenge are rival camps who have united in their insistence that she limit her input once the debate begins. Perhaps fearing a Raddatz-style grip, Democrats and Republicans have negotiated behind the scenes and attempted to dictate a hands-off policy to Crowley. READ FULL STORY