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Bipartisan Group Examining Presidential Debate Format

Bipartisan Group Examining Presidential Debate Format
UPI FILE
President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney talked over each other during the second Presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16, 2012.

PHILADELPHIA (UPI) — A bipartisan group of former Presidential campaign aides is meeting to decide if the debate format needs to be changed for the next U.S. election.

Beth Myers, who served as Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s top debate preparation adviser in 2012, told POLITICO the idea for the panel came from a conversation she had with her Democratic counterpart, Anita Dunn. The two chatted at a forum held after the election at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We were chatting about: Are we doing the moderators correctly? Is the timing right? Is the format right? What is the involvement of new media? Are they even being held in the right place? We were all sort of unhappy to be in Hempstead, N.Y., in October,” Myers said.

Annenberg is sponsoring the group, with Kathleen Hall Jamison, a professor there, leading it. Other members include Bob Bauer, who has been the Democrats’ debate negotiator for some time, and his Republican opposite, Ben Steinberg.

Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who has been involved in Presidential debates since 1960, appeared at one session by video conference to talk about the evolution of the debates.

Dunn said the group is a long way from making recommendations.

“The premise of the group is that presidential debates are a good thing — they’re one of the unifying experiences in the presidential election,” she told POLITICO. “But how do you adapt for new technologies and new audiences, and the way campaigns have changed? How do you make sure that this very valuable institution continues to evolve to serve the greatest number of voters?”

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