The presidential campaign has reached a moment of rare bipartisan agreement: the candidates do not want Candy Crowley to do much of anything at the second presidential debate Tuesday. Jim Lehrer might have cost President Obama the first debate, and Martha Raddatz might have cost Paul Ryan the vice-presidential debate, and so they both have an interest in convincing Crowley not to do much but facilitate questions from voters, who are likely to ask less pointed questions in the town-hall style debate at Hofstra University. The campaigns have gone public with their demands, telling Time's Mark Halperin that Crowley's public statements about questions she'll ask Romney and Obama conflict with the deal they've made with the Commission on Presidential Debates. The media-on-media action makes for a trilateral agreement among election year adversaries.
Crowley said last week, "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?'" Hearing that, the Obama and Romney campaigns appealed to the Commission on Presidential Debates, Time's Mark Halperin reports. The campaigns have already negotiated the debate formats, and they do not include X, Y, or Z. The memorandum of understanding explicitly says "the moderator will not rephrase the question or open a new topic." Why would they not want Crowley asking questions? Because reporters tend to ask more detailed and tricky questions than voters.
Halperin says there's no evidence Crowley agreed to the terms, or was asked by the commission to agree to them. The voters selected for the debate have already submitted their questions to Crowley so she can decide who to call on and how to follow up, the Associated Press reports.
In the meantime, the campaigns are also working the refs in a more traditional way. The Drudge Report links to a video titled "Candy Crowley: Paul Ryan on the ticket is 'some sort of ticket death wish'" -- implying she's biased against the Republican ticket -- but if you watch the video, it's clear Crowley is talking about the views of some Republicans.