TERRY KREPEL/Media Matters for America
At the start of Wednesday's presidential debate, moderator Jim Lehrer said he would place an emphasis on "differences, specifics, and choices." But Lehrer missed repeated opportunities to press Mitt Romney into offering specifics on his policy proposals -- just one of the ways in which he lost control of the debate.
During the debate, President Obama echoed the consensus among economic experts who have pointed out that Romney has consistently refused to detail which loopholes he would close to pay for his planned tax cuts, at one point stating that Romney has "been asked over 100 times how you would close those deductions and loopholes, and he hasn't been able to identify them." In each case, Lehrer failed to ask Romney which deductions and loopholes he would eliminate.
Similarly, Lehrer failed to press Romney for details on how he would replace Obama's health care reform plan, letting Romney assert that he has a detailed plan. But as MSNBC's Ezra Klein pointed out, the health care plan on Romney's website is just 396 words, "about half the length of an average op-ed column." Klein added that Romney "was able to hide in the sort of pockets of vagueness he created."
His failure to press Romney for details was one symptom of Lehrer losing control of the debate, a conclusion that was shared across various media outlets: