Candy Crowley debate

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A top CNN executive said President Barack Obama had more time to talk during Tuesday night’s debate “because he speaks more slowly.”

Mark Whitaker, executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, said moderator Candy Crowley and her producers tried to keep the speaking times for each candidate equal but that Obama’s pace meant that he went on longer, according to a staff memo obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. Obama received roughly 44:04 minutes compared to Romney’s 40:50.

Whitaker promised a word count to see who actually spoke more.

Whitaker also defended Crowley for correcting Mitt Romney during his response about the terrorist attack the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Crowley said Obama “did in fact” use the term “act of terror” the day after the assault. Obama actually said “no acts of terror,” leaving it open as to whether he was referring to Benghazi specifically or to terror attacks in general. Crowley said afterward Romney had been “right in the main.”

“It should be stressed that she was just stating a point of fact: Obama did talk about an act (or acts) of terror, no matter what you think he meant by that at the time,” Whitaker wrote.

Praising Crowley’s performance as “superb,” Whitaker said Romney supporters are criticizing her “no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver.”

Read the full memo below, via the Hollywood Reporter:

Let’s start with a big round of applause for Candy Crowley for a superb job under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. She and her team had to select and sequence questions in a matter of hours, and then she had to deal with the tricky format, the nervous questioners, the aggressive debaters, all while shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her. She pulled it off masterfully.

The reviews on Candy’s performance have been overwhelmingly positive but Romney supporters are going after her on two points, no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver. On the legitimacy of Candy fact-checking Romney on Obama’s Rose Garden statement, it should be stressed that she was just stating a point of fact: Obama did talk about an act (or acts) of terror, no matter what you think he meant by that at the time. On why Obama got more time to speak, it should be noted that Candy and her commission producers tried to keep it even but that Obama went on longer largely because he speaks more slowly. We’re going to do a word count to see whether, as in Denver, Romney actually got more words in even if he talked for a shorter period of time.

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