More on the Tuesday Debate

8:10 a.m. E.T.

From “Morning Joe,” more on my exclusive story on the Obama and Romney concerns about the role of the moderator in the town hall session:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Mark, you have some exclusive reporting in TIME Magazine about one issue that both candidates and both campaigns seem to agree on and that is a growing concern with the debate moderator tomorrow night. Tell us about it.

MARK HALPERIN: Well, it’s on now and it’s a complicated issue because you’ve got these four entities basically. You’ve got the two campaigns. You’ve got the Commission on Presidential Debates and then you have the individual moderators. Candy Crowley, who’s moderating the town hall on Tuesday, has got unique challenges compared to the other moderators. The Commission and the campaigns want this to be driven by the questions that come from the people chosen by Gallup to ask questions, citizens who are likely voters, and both campaigns have been struck, as has the Commission, by some of the interviews that Candy has done talking about her role and what she envisions her role to be. The campaigns and the Commission envision a much more limited role than they’ve heard her describe and things are a bit influx. It’s clear that the campaigns have asked the Commission, as I report, to check with Candy to say, you know, “do you get the fact that we think this should be a very limited role?” Very few follow ups, basically, just traffic cop after an audience question. And, it remains a little bit unclear at this point about if she envisions this role the way the Commission and the campaigns do or whether she wants to play a more active role in following up after they’ve answered the question from the citizen.

WILLIE GEIST: Mark, will this matter though at the end of the day? A week ago we were talking about Martha Raddatz and there was a big firestorm around her. Everybody forgot that after the debate. The same thing with Gwen Ifill four years ago. Will this matter at the end?

MARK HALPERIN: I think, you know, Candy’s a pro and I think she understands what the goal is, which is to try to elucidate as much as possible from these two candidates in the 90 minutes. I think the real question is, again, how many of those audience questions they get to and how much do the campaigns respond, basically, from their point of view, exclusively to the time being given over to the audience questions rather than to Candy’s. I think the quality of the audience questions matters a lot and one of the real key functions Candy will have, which will be behind the scenes — we won’t see it — is culling the questions, reading the questions that are submitted by these audience members. They submit them in advance. She’s got to choose which ones will be asked and in what order. That’s a big assignment. That’s a big function.

Watch the video above.

Related Topics: Barack Obama, Candy Crowley, CNN, Commission on Presidential Debates, Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney, 2012 Elections, Analysis, The Page, Video

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