President Obama,who needed a knockout performance at last night’s presidential debate to revive his flagging campaign, received a big boost from moderator Candy Crowley at a critical juncture of the debate.
During a discussion of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, Romney accused Obama of waiting two weeks before calling the attack terrorism.
Romney was referring to Obama’s Rose Garden speech the day after the attack in which Obama expressed his deep regret for Stevens’ death along with the other Americans, but failed to call it terrorism.
That’s when Crowley interjected, telling Romney that the President did indeed use the words “acts of terror,” leading Obama to ask her to repeat what she had just said, recognizing that it reenforced his position on the attack.
That comment by Crowley was not only unnecessary–it was wrong.
Obama did use those words, but it was in the context of how Americans reacted to the events of September 11, 2001, not Benghazi.
Earlier in his speech Obama alluded to the video that supposedly led to the attack:
Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
He didn’t believe it was terrorism, but a video that incited the attack, a position that UN Ambassador Susan Rice repeated over and over on national television.
If Crowley really read the transcript, then she would have known what Obama was speaking about, instead of throwing him a lifeline.
Crowley, though, apparently overstepped her authority with this incident.
According to Politico, Crowley’s role as agreed to in a contract signed by both campaigns was limited to “managing” the discussion. She was not supposed to “rephrase the question or open a new topic,” “ask follow-up questions,” or “otherwise intervene in the debate except to acknowledge the questioners from the audience or enforce the time limits, and invite candidate comments during the two-minute response period.”
The Romney campaign should sue her for breach of contract.
Later, on CNN, Crowley acknowledged that Romney was actually “right in the main” on Libya, but didn’t seem too concerned that by interjecting herself into the debate last night, it looked like Romney was debating two people.