PALM BEACH, Fla. – As Jim Lehrer, the moderator of last week’s presidential debate in Denver comes under continued fire from his professional colleagues, radio giant Rush Limbaugh is predicting a different tack by the media in charge of the next debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“Here’s the thing to look out for. The thing to look out for is the moderator in the next debate,” Limbaugh said Tuesday afternoon.
“Whoever the moderator is will be under orders to stifle Romney and to cut short answers to questions or reactions to Obama. That’s why they’re mad at Jim Lehrer of PBS, that Lehrer didn’t shut Romney down at the point in time, many points in time that he was shellacking Obama. He didn’t enforce the rules on time limits and so forth.”
It will be moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, and will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues.
Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.
There’s also a vice-presidential debate set for this Thursday night at Centre College in Danville, Ky., with Martha Raddatz of ABC News the moderator.
Last week’s debate featured a new format recently approved by the Commission on Presidential Debates, with 15-minute sections on different topics. Lehrer said the differences had not been explained well to the public in advance, and he allowed both Obama and Romney to take more time to talk directly to each other.
“I may be seeing something that’s not there, but I can’t imagine emerging from this experience – I’m talking about myself – with any permanent scars,” Lehrer told the Associated Press. “I’m very upbeat about it, and I don’t have any second thoughts.”
He continued: “The first few times I said ‘Let’s move on’ and they wanted to keep talking, the inclination of course is to stop them so I could cover all the subjects I wanted to cover,” he said. “But I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Wait a minute, they’re talking to each other, leave ‘em alone.’ So I backed off.”
He said his critics would have been much harder on him had he put the brakes on discussions between the candidates.
“Not only that, but I would have deserved it,” he said.
“It would have been different if they were talking about tiddlywinks or baseball, their favorite color or something like that,” he said. “They were talking about the things that really matter.”
He told AP he was surprised to get criticism from political pros and fellow journalists, people he said should have seen what he was trying to accomplish. Among the critics were Dan Abrams of ABC News, Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.
“I was thinking, ‘Weren’t you paying attention to what was happening before your very eyes?’” he said.
Meanwhile, Limbaugh said last week’s debate which helped propel Romney ahead in many presidential polls “was not an anomaly in the sense that Obama had a rare night off and Romney had a day that he’s incapable of having again. In that debate, both people were who they are every day. That is Mitt Romney. That’s who Mitt Romney is. He’s not the guy in his ads or in Obama’s ads of him. That’s who Mitt Romney is. I know him. I’ve spent time with him. That’s who he is. He knows his stuff. He knows the stats. He knows the details. He knows the facts and figures. He’s an upper echelon manager. He’s an executive. He knows the stuff. Obama doesn’t. That’s also who Obama was.”
Limbaugh is also predicting a virtually instant surge in positive economic news should Obama lose the election.
“If Romney wins this, we are going to see signs of an economic uptick very quickly. If Romney wins this, that will equate to confidence, more certainty in terms of what the economy is going to be vis-a-vis government policy in taxes and Obamacare. It’s gonna be practically immediate. It’s gonna be amazing. If Romney wins this and pulls this out, you watch. There won’t be a whole lot of hesitation.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Daily Mail is reporting today that Obama believed he had beaten Romney in the Denver debate last week.
The paper says a Democrat adviser said Obama’s inner circle was dismayed at the “disaster” and that he believed the central problem was that Obama was so disdainful of Romney, he didn’t think he needed to engage with him.
“President Obama made it clear he wanted to be doing anything else – anything – but debate prep,” the unnamed Democrat said. “He kept breaking off whenever he got the opportunity and never really focused on the event. He went into the debate armed with a number of one-liners to throw at Romney, including at least two about Romney not caring about 47 percent of the country. But he decided not to use them.”