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Magazine / POLITICAL INSIDERS POLL

Partisans Split Over Favorite Debate Moderators

Plus: Insiders weigh in on Obama administration's response to Benghazi attack.

October 18, 2012

How damaging has the administration’s response to the terrorist attack in Libya been to President Obama?

DEMOCRATS (106 VOTES)

Very damaging: 1%
Damaging: 35%
Not damaging: 64%

Very damaging

 

“Until the attack, foreign policy had been an undisputed high mark for the administration, yet the Benghazi incident has called this into question—all because of a mangled response. And this is the guy who got bin Laden.”

Damaging

“It is a distraction and undermines the president’s foreign-policy credentials.”

“Has put Obama on the defensive—raises issues of competency on a core strength (national security). And, most importantly, goes at trust, which is ultimately at the heart of this election.”

“Arguably the president’s greatest strength, in terms of issues, is foreign policy. Unfortunately for him, Americans don’t have enough interest to care about more than one foreign-policy issue right now, and that issue is Libya.”

“Democrats have no room for error on foreign policy.”

“It was damaging, but not as damaging as Mitt Romney walking into a nationally televised mistake in his attack on the president for the Libyan response.”

Not damaging

“Not good, but not damaging. Might seem to become more salient with the last debate on foreign policy, but the economy will still rule in voters’ decision.”

“At the end of Mitt Romney’s dusty alley of thin allegations stood the man who must live with his decisions and all their complexity. Game over, Mr. Technocrat—you are out of your league.”

“Americans know who killed bin Laden. This election is about the economy.”

“The president’s strong [debate] response turned this into a question of leadership, which he won. Showed strength and made Romney look too political.”

“Most undecided voters do not understand the back and forth and only want to look forward.”

 

How damaging has the administration’s response to the terrorist attack in Libya been to President Obama?

REPUBLICANS (98 VOTES)

Very damaging: 29%
Damaging: 67%
Not damaging: 4%

Very damaging

“The October Surprise is how inept the Obama administration has been in handling the Benghazi terrorist attack. Could well doom his reelection.”

“Looks like incompetence or failure to tell the truth.”

“Some Obama political operative believed the murder of our ambassador was just another event requiring media manipulation.”

“Even though the president won the exchange in Tuesday night’s debate, the bottom-line facts are extremely damaging: The Obama administration simply dropped the ball on security, and that exposed a U.S. ambassador to a lethal terrorist attack, which they aggressively tried to deny until the facts closed in on them. Regardless of what happens in the election, that is a terrible indictment of this president that will hang over his tenure.”

“It makes the independent voters feel very unsure of President Obama’s ability to keep us safe. That unsettling feeling is present, even if they can’t quite put their finger on it.”

Damaging

“The president’s political luck when it comes to the Mideast may be running out.”

“Despite Candy Crowley’s apologia, the fact remains that they didn’t know what happened. The question becomes: What didn’t they know, and why didn’t they know it?”

“He wasn’t there for the 3 a.m. call? Or he didn’t wake up.”

“Could have been worse if the Romney campaign had not hurt their ability to highlight the mess with their own inept initial attacks.”

“Foreign policy is just not a dominant issue in this election.”

“It would be very damaging, except that Gov. Romney keeps making missteps on the issue.”

“As usual, it’s not the event itself—it’s the cover-up.”

“Throwing Hillary under the bus was pretty craven. And obvious.”

“Bin Laden gives the president a good amount of Teflon on terrorism issues, but its usefulness is being stretched here.”

 

Who has been the best moderator so far in the debates?

DEMOCRATS (104 VOTES)

Jim Lehrer: 3%
Martha Raddatz: 56%
Candy Crowley: 41%

Martha Raddatz

“Crowley had to manage bigger fish, but Raddatz was a real referee. She had a command of the issues and held her own.”

“Martha ruled with an iron hand from the beginning, even as the heavyweight Biden bullied the middleweight Ryan around the ring.”

“I expect Romney will say Lehrer—he did not interrupt him like he did his female moderators.”

“Lehrer was too understated, and Crowley injected herself too frequently in the town-hall debate. Raddatz was well versed, balanced, and kept the discussions on topic.”

“Did her homework and made herself (and thus the viewer) part of the mix.”

“Martha by a mile! Lehrer got rolled, and Candy’s tone was too awkward and apologetic in trying to steer the candidates. Martha got it right.”

“If this were Nevada, I would choose none of the above.”

“Women should moderate all the debates. Better command of the issues.”

Candy Crowley

“You know she did well because the R’s are complaining about her. Raddatz was also good—Lehrer was awful.”

“Asked the most direct follow-ups and played referee when necessary.”

“Raddatz and Crowley both did a superb job. The nod for best goes to Crowley because it turns out she was in a combat zone.”

“She did the best job of managing the interruptions. Was good at staring down Romney when he was overly aggressive and approaching her. Wonder what Jane Goodall would say about his behavior.”

“Candy by a line. Her interjection of fact into the debate over the Benghazi incident saved her.”

“Put debates on the list along with conventions for needed reforms for 2016.

“Real-time fact checking—bold and long overdue move.”

 

Who has been the best moderator so far in the debates?

REPUBLICANS (95 VOTES)

Jim Lehrer: 70%
Martha Raddatz: 24%
Candy Crowley: 6%

Jim Lehrer

“He understood that he was not the show. The last two have felt as though they were journalists performing for their fellow journalists. Voters are smart enough to figure things out for themselves.”

“Crowley injected herself too much in the debate—all to Obama’s benefit.”

“Is there a ‘none-of-the-above’ option, because none of these folks are doing anything to dispel the concern that the media is no longer impartial.”

“We know it’s not Candy, who left the moderating role behind and joined as a participant.”

“Raddatz and Crowley are typical of too many journalists. They believe they are essential to the story when, in fact, they are impediments to the story.”

“Let ’em talk, for crying out loud. One of the debaters is going to be president; none of the moderators will be.”

“At least Lehrer wasn’t in the bag for the Democrats.”

“Are these the best moderators the press corps can produce? Really?”

“The unscripted debate gave voters a true look into the mental capacities of both candidates.”

“Candy Crowley could not have been more biased. No hard questions for Obama, let him keep talking through—just a totally slanted set up!”

Martha Raddatz

“Raddatz kept candidates on track without debating one of them. Shame on Candy Crowley; she should have let Obama defend himself instead of interjecting—plus the situation appears to be not as clear as she asserted.”

“Crowley was the worst moderator in history of presidential debates.”

“Millions of conservatives just lumped CNN in with MSNBC for Crowley’s unfair and misleading ‘fact check.’ ”

“[Picking Raddatz] is like saying New Moon was the best Twilight movie.”

________

Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.

This article originally appeared in print as "Political Insiders Poll."

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