As I wrote last night, the Libya exchange among President Obama, Mitt Romney and moderator Candy Crowley is the moment that mattered more than any other during a most contentious debate. It's the one moment that will be remembered for several reasons.
You can read about the exchange in my review -- along with my prediction that it would be gasoline on the partisan bonfire of American politics.
But whether you agree or not with Crowley interjecting herself in a back and forth between the debaters , and saying that the president was factually correct in his claim that he had called the attack in Libya a terrorist act the day after it happened, she definitely ignited further debate about moderators and the role they should or shouldn't play.
Here's what she said in an interview with me last week when I asked her specifically about the kind of thing she wound up doing Tuesday night.
"What's your sense going into this about one of the candidates saying something that isn't true?" I asked her. "If someone says something that you know isn't true, what do you feel your duty is as moderator? Where do you come down on this?"
"Here's where I fall on that," she said. “Look, these are two grown men, and if there are two grown men who should know what’s going on — or what should go on in this country — it’s them. So, I’m not sure either one of them needs me to defend them or go after the other guy or whatever. ... Actually, I think, President Obama can figure out when Mitt Romney’s wrong, and Mitt Romney can figure out when Obama’s wrong.”
Tuesday's situation was unique in that there was truth (or maybe "truthiness") in what both men were saying. Obama had used the phrase "no acts of terror," the day after the attack, but he seemed to be speaking in a generic sense. And Romney was right in saying that the administration stuck with a different explanation for almost two weeks after the attack. To her credit, Crowley tried to make those more subtle points.
But as I said in my review, the only things most people took note of was how startled and wrong Romney seemed when Crowley fact-checked him.
What do you think about her act?
CORRECTION: An earlier version misquoted the language of Obama's Rose Garden reference to acts of terror.
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