CNN’s Candy Crowley took on the task of wrangling President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney as moderator for the second presidential debate Tuesday night.
Following the debate, conservative commentators pounced on Crowley for allowing Obama more speaking time (the president spoke for 44:04 minutes to Romney’s 40:50, according to CNN) and for fact checking an assertion Romney made about Obama’s response to the deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.
During the debate, Romney said it took Obama two weeks to declare it a “terrorist attack,” an assertion Crowley deemed false, noting Obama called it a terror attack in his Rose Garden remarks. Obama actually said “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation," and after the debate Crowley conceded Romney had been “right in the main” but chose the wrong words.
In a series of tweets, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin slammed Crowley for this fact checking, telling the moderator to “Eat crow, Crowley." Ann Coulter tweeted: “Obama (and Candy) lied, our ambassador died: No, Obama Didn’t Call Benghazi “Act of Terror” in Speech.” And Fox News Channel commentator Tucker Carlson opined: “Her many friends in the press will claim otherwise, but honestly when was the last time you saw someone do a worse job moderating a debate."
But Crowley was largely praised on MSNBC for going up against Romney on Libya, and for being more hands-on than Jim Lehrer, the previous moderator whose performance was largely considered ineffectual.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also said Crowley was “no potted plant,” and Howard Fineman said, "Candy Crowley was no Jim Lehrer.”
During the debate, HBO's Bill Maher appeared to be enjoying Crowley's moderating, tweeting "whoa, Candy just had to tell Romney to SIT THE F--K DOWN! I'd say he had too much caffeine, but we know that can't be it." He also praised her Libya fact checking: "Romney shown to be a liar. TKO."
After the debate, Crowley said on CNN she felt the pressure of the event. “There’s so much at stake. There’s so little time" to explore all the issues, she said.