There will be no changes to the upcoming presidential debates despite the widespread outcry about the format and moderator of the first clash that seemed to muzzle President Obama while giving Mitt Romney a massive political bounce.
If anything, said Michael McCurry, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the candidates will be urged to push even deeper into the weeds on policy even if that means a continued unstructured back-and-forth Lincoln-Douglas style of debate, McCurry told Secrets. "More free-flowing," is how he described it.
"We want to keep making them go deeper," he said, explaining that the first debate was exactly what the commission had hoped for. Now, he said, the two candidates should go beyond the talking points and debate policy ideas. "They have to challenge each other," he said.
The next presidential debate, slated for Tuesday October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., will be a town hall with voters joining moderator Candy Crowley of CNN in the questioning. McCurry said that is a popular format that won't be disrupted.
The former Clinton White House spokesman said he had no problem with the way the first debate came off. "I've never seen one where the candidates interacted more," said McCurry, who urged the commission to veer from the standard question and answer format to let the candidates battle each other more.
If there was any problem with the first debate, he said, it was that Romney and Obama pulled punches and didn't push each other for enough policy details. "Romney let Obama off the hook a bit and Obama clearly let Romney off the hook," he said.