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Candy Crowley: How did she do as moderator of the presidential debate?

Candy Crowley was the first woman to moderate a presidential debate in 20 years. She stepped into the debate to correct a Mitt Romney statement about Libya. Democrats hailed Candy Crowley's intercession, while many Republicans called it out of line.

By David BauderAssociated Press / October 17, 2012

Debate moderator Candy Crowley speaks to the audience before President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney participate in the town-hall style presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012.

REUTERS/Jason Reed

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Candy Crowley's signature moment as moderator of Tuesday's rough-and-tumble presidential debate came when she was called upon to referee a dispute over President Barack Obama's description of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya as an act of terror.

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When Republican Mitt Romney questioned whether the president had done so, Crowley said, "He did, in fact, sir."

"Can you say that a little louder, Candy?" Obama said, as the debate's audience broke into applause.

Similarly, there was applause when Crowley suggested that it also took others in the administration as much as two weeks to abandon the idea that the attacks were related to protests over an anti-Islam video.

"I was trying to bring some kind of clarity to the situation," Crowley said later. The CNN chief political correspondent was moderating her first presidential debate and was the first woman to do so in 20 years.

It was a town hall-style debate, with a panel of 82 undecided voters brought to a Long Island college stage to put questions to the two candidates.

Crowley was caught between trying to keep the candidates to time limits yet still being flexible enough not to cut off productive exchanges. The first debate moderator, PBS' Jim Lehrer, had received some criticism for not policing the debate. Online, Crowley was generally praised for her effort.

In a CNN interview Wednesday, Crowley said that during the Benghazi exchange, "I was again trying to move them on. They were hung up on this one thing."

She succeeded the first time in stopping Romney from trying to get in some extra words, but not the second time. That led to some social media suggestions that Romney could be hurt by appearing to look disrespectful toward a woman. Later in the debate, however, Obama talked past Crowley's two attempts to cut short one answer.

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