Time has gotten its hands on the full text of the 21-page memorandum of understanding agreed upon by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns for the debates this year, and it doesn’t shine well on either Obama or Romney.
Among the restrictions agreed upon is the fact that audience members and moderator Candy Crowley won’t be allowed to ask follow-up questions dyring tonight’s presidential debate. There is also the stipulation that there will be “no TV cut-aways to any candidate who is not responding to a question while another candidate is answering a question or to a candidate who is not giving a closing statement while another candidate is doing so.”
Here are some of the various rules that have to be followed during the debate, via Gawker:
– “The candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates.”
– “The candidates shall not address each other with proposed pledges.”
– “At no time during the October 3 First Presidential debate shall either candidate move from his designated area behing the respective podium.”
– For the October 16 town-hall-style debate, “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….”
– “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.”
– “[T]he Commission shall take appropriate steps to cut-off the microphone of any…audience member who attempts to pose any question or statement different than that previously posed to the moderator for review.”
– “No candidate may reference or cite any specific individual sitting in a debate audience (other than family members) at any time during a debate.”
– For the town-hall debate: “Each candidate may move about in a pre-designated area, as proposed by the Commission and approved by each campaign, and may not leave that area while the debate is underway.”
It’s worth noting that neither the Commission on Presidential Debates nor the debate moderators like Crowley were part of this agreement, Time reports. It is pretty clear from these documents that Obama and Romney want the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate to run a certain way, and have done everything in their power to make sure that happens.