What Should Candy Crowley Ask at the Presidential Town Hall?

BlogHer Original Post

Tuesday night, it’s Obama v. Romney, round two! This event will be a Town Hall style moderated by CNN correspondent Candy Crowley. There’s been some brouhaha over how much free reign Crowley will have to ask questions or follow-up on the questions asked by the people in the audience – who are undecided voters from the Long Island, New York area.

I’m looking forward to the questions that will be submitted by members of the audience – regular people who haven’t decided who to vote for. This will be a chance for both President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney to directly answer the concerns of the slim margin of undecided voters. But as Carole Simpson (the last woman to moderate a presidential Town Hall 20 years ago) said on MSNBC, the the questions posed by the audience may be pretty basic, and a veteran reporter like Crowley would be able to drill-down the candidates answers, like Martha Raddatz did last week with the vice presidential contenders (Specifics, please!). Simpson and Lesley Seymour, editor in chief of MORE, advised Crowley to “go rogue” and ask her questions anyway. Seymour told BlogHer that's what women have to do to get answers:

Women always are told not to "make waves." We want to be "liked" and often sacrifice getting ahead for following the rules. Look at Steve Jobs-- he annoyed and infuriated everyone around him by never ever playing by the rules. It worked for him! And Tom Brokaw said he caught a lot of criticism for asking the questions he wanted to ask when he did the town hall last year. He could have cared less!

RTNDA AWARDS DINNER AND THE EDWARD R MURROW AWARDS HELD AT THE GRABD HYATT HOTEL, NEW YORK New York.10-17-2005. WILLIAM REGAN- 2005.CANDY CROWLEY(Credit Image: © William Regan/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)


So if you were Candy Crowley or a participant in the presidential Town Hall, what would you want to know?

Five Things We'd Like to Ask at the Presidential Town Hall

Reproductive Rights and the Sanctity of Life

Left-leaning women cheered last week, when Martha Raddatz grilled the vice presidential candidates about their positions on abortion. Surprisingly, many women from both sides of the aisle still have more questions, either about the rights of women to control their bodies or protecting the sanctity of life. Lisen Stromberg of Finding (Un)Common Ground wants to know what the candidates will do to protect women's reproductive rights, while her co-blogger Aimee Whetstine wants to know what they will do to protect the lives of the unborn.

Star Parker at TownHall wants to hear more about social issues, as she believes they are intrinsically tied to the economy:

Yet the discussion about this crisis is 100 percent focused on how to cut the spending and zero attention is spent on restoration of values that could rebuild families, produce more children and stop destroying the unborn.

Economy

Sure, the latest jobs report shows a slight drop in unemployment, but what plans do the candidates have to create more jobs? More specifically, women and minorities want to know what policies would directly affect their needs. Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American journalism groups submitted questions about high rates of unemployment in those communities, among other issues, but the topic never came up in the previous debates.

Keli Goff at The Root would like the candidates to address the extremely high rate of black unemployment:

While the Obama administration recently celebrated news that the unemployment rate has finally dipped below 8 percent for the first time in four years, unemployment for black Americans remains at a staggering 13.4 percent. And yet if you were to listen to the first two debates, these statistics might come as a shock to you, because people of color have been virtually invisible, even in the age of a black president.

Then there is the issue of balancing the budget. Among Gretchen Hamel's concerns, "We have run a trillion dollar deficit each year since 2009. Can you promise we will not run a $1 trillion dollar deficit next fiscal year?"

Disappointed by the Denver debate, MomsRising reacted by posting a petition asking the candidates to directly address issues that affect women and families such as equal pay and paid family leave.

Immigration

You wouldn't know from watching the first two debates that comprehensive immigration reform has been hugely contentious topic this election year. Sayu Bhojwani at Huffington Post wants to ask about immigration – five questions, to be exact, including how to fix an out-of-date visa system and what are the alternatives to the current program of deporting undocumented immigrants?

Education

This one's my question. There was some tap dancing around the topic of education at the first presidential debate, but what are the plans to improve public education? To President Obama, I’d ask if Race to the Top will continue in its current form or will there be changes? To Mitt Romney, I’d ask if he has a plan to make existing public schools better, or are charter schools and vouchers the only options?

Respect

Of course, the audience wants to see some spirited disagreement, but there's something to be said for a little politeness, too. Dani from The Cute Conservative hopes to see more respect this go around. writing that "Joe Biden gagged America with his lack of sincerity and respect in the VP debate". And Augusta Christensen at Lawsonry criticized Romney for talking over moderator Jim Lehrer and interrupting the President.

What are the burning questions that you’d like to ask the presidential candidates? And how much do you think Candy Crowley should be able to guide or follow up on the questions?

The Town Hall will take place at 9ET/6PST at Hofstra College in New York. Join us on Twitter for real-time reaction by following @BlogHer and #election2012.

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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