Presidential Debate 2012: Moderator Candy Crowley Will Keep Control of the Town Hall Debate

On Tuesday, President Obama and Mitt Romney will once again square off at 9:00 p.m. (ET) for the CNN-sponsored second presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York.

Romney hopes to maintain the momentum from his success in the last debate, while Obama will try to make up for his lackluster performance. This debate, however, will be vastly different than the first. The town hall-style format for the second debate means that the live audience of undecided voters will control the discussion. Candy Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondant who will moderate the second debate, also promises to play an active role in keeping the candidates in line. She plans to encourage the candidates to directly answer each question and to provide details on their policy proposals — critics argue these details have been lacking throughout the 2012 election.

Since this is the one presidential debate where the moderator plays the smallest role, Crowley's enthusiasm for her responsibility is promising. Women pushed for a female moderator so their concerns could be part of the discussion. As a result, many women are hoping that Crowley will try to emphasize issues important to them. The candidates have already addressed some of these issues – education and abortion have been discussed in the past two debates – but none of the candidates have deviated far from their previous statements. Crowley can direct the discussion so that the candidates have to provide the specifics that voters seek. 

She is also known as a harsh interviewer on State of the Union, the television program she hosts, and she is eager to push the candidates away from their typical talking points. Martha Raddatz's success as the tough moderator in the vice presidential debate was generally well received, which should further encourage Crowley to stimulate the discussion and get real answers from each candidate. Even though her role is meant to be inconsequential, Crowley could change the discourse of this election if she takes advantage of her position.