Carole Simpson reflects on first town hall-style debate
Former debate moderator weighs in
- Duration 5:39
- Date Oct 16, 2012
Former debate moderator weighs in
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I -- talk to someone who can really give us a unique perspective.
On what we're going to see tonight.
And 1990 -- at town hall debate took place in Richmond Virginia the candidates.
Bill Clinton George H.
Bush and -- -- -- the moderator.
Was Carole Simpson the very first woman or minority ever to act as sole moderator.
Of a presidential debate.
And Carole Simpson joins us now -- -- ahead on the program today.
Glad to be with you Jenna -- take -- back to the morning before the debate how were you preparing what was going on but.
Lies a complete.
And nervous wreck.
I was just so -- -- I I have to tell you that I wasn't given notification that I had been chosen to be a moderator of the town hall format until five days before it happened.
And it it never happened before they were trying something for the first time in history.
To have the -- people ask the candidates the questions which I loved.
The whole idea participatory democracy and that the people could ask your own questions not just journalists.
So I was all excited about that.
But I was afraid of what what happened with these undecided voters whether they might freeze with all the cameras and and talking to the two men who would lead our country.
So I studied and I prepared and I knew every position.
Up every candidate on every issue.
That could possibly have come up and I had three people to worry about I had Ross Perot and Clinton and a bush.
So it was a lot of work so my head as I understand Candy Crowley has said her head is his failure you just builds -- information.
What we can't we -- certainly -- written relate to that as well you know Rick just give us a great background of what past debates look like any rolled little sound from Tom brought about broke ride from Charlie -- -- Here -- -- Candy Crowley describes her -- and what she aims to do tonight let's take a listen.
Town hall meeting there will be questioners did the right and the left of me and in front of -- candidates.
And that they will have the questions and as it -- as was the case in the Charlie Gibson town hall meeting and the Tom Brokaw.
Town hall meeting in presidential campaigns past there is a time after that for follow up -- for furthering that discussion.
-- the campaigns are really clear they don't want -- follow up questions bit but Carol what's the best format for -- the voters what do you think.
I think it's still that the people ask their questions.
And you will find that they are not the questions that we in the press are interested in -- ask about.
They are very parochial issues like my school and my taxes and my health care.
People really want personal issues and answers to those kinds of questions where we might want to know about Ben Ghazi.
I didn't have the opportunity to ask questions.
Up follow up all I could do is clarify a question.
But no follow -- my people could follow up.
So this is a very different.
And one that the Republican and democratic parties are controlling.
That I I worry about it and I wonder what candy is going to do because.
She's been told no follow ups but she's a great journalist and you know she might feel the need to follow right on someone that did ask her own question.
It'll be interesting to see if she does that as a journalist yourself from curious your thoughts on -- do you think the format and the moderator.
And all the discussion over this part of this process.
Is getting a disproportionate.
Amount of attention by the press -- some of the big issues that we should really be talking about right now.
Well I have been talking a lot about the debates and I have always felt it's a matter of style over substance.
And people want to see how they do I hear that all the time.
They're looking for those moments and looking for.
You know the gaps and things like that.
I don't think anybody could recite.
Back black president president.
Governor Romney had to say about his economic tax plan.
But I think they do remember Paul Ryan drinking a lot of water hand.
Joseph Biden doing a lot of gestures.
So people are not listening so much for substance but are interested in how -- they -- doing.
Do they looked in control.
Are they going to be like the president who looked like he had taken sleeping pills before the last debate.
And -- like talk about that he has a lot to prove for tonight.
And this might be the best format for him because it's with the people it and he was a community organizer.
Organizer and I've been around him and seeing him very comfortable.
With ordinary people which has been a problem for governor Romney -- watched him campaign in Iowa.
It's so many reasons to watch tonight Kara and and we really appreciate.
I your insights and all you've done as well for the field of journalism I thank you very much for joining us today we look -- it happened back.
Thank you so much.