How many presidential debates are enough?
October 18th, 2012
03:33 PM ET

How many presidential debates are enough?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Two down, one to go.

That's the count when it comes to the number of presidential debates before Election Day.

While the debates offer the voters a rare chance to see the candidates face to face, and tens of millions of Americans are tuning in, these events are almost always a triumph of style over substance.

It's all about show business. But that's not surprising, because that's what we're all about: Real housewives, the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, you name it. The stuff that contaminates our TV screens night after night for the most part is garbage - reality shows, game shows. Politicians fit right in.

And the debates can sort of be like watching a puppet show. You have the handlers pulling the candidates' strings. You have coaches, contributors, advisers putting words in the candidates' mouths. And then after the fact, we have these same folks in the "spin room" telling us what we saw during the debates. If I watched the debate, I really don't need some political hack telling me what I saw.

The candidates never give direct answers to the questions. Instead they maneuver behind a safe barricade of campaign talking points and then just wind up talking about what they want, not the question that was asked.

In President Obama's case, it's a good thing there was more than one debate.

But now voters might be scratching their heads wondering which one was the real president - the docile, seemingly disinterested fellow who showed up at the first debate, or the scrappy, energized man desperate for another four years who showed up at the second one.

Maybe the third one will give us the answer.

As for Romney, there's always the chance he'll show up to the last debate with binders full of flip-flops.

Here’s my question to you: How many presidential debates are enough?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. Charles

    Campaigns should be limited to 90 days with one two hour debate within 10 days of the election. That will get the special interests out of the election.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Sam

    None as they are currently conducted.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  3. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, Virginia

    I would have liked to see the Libertarian and Green candidates included too. Until they are in, there is always the need for one more debate. Other than that, 3 seems like a good number.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  4. Lee in Wyoming

    Zero is plenty. This whole thing is too nasty. The candidates need to act
    presidential, but no......the public, like the Romans, demands a good show. And
    Tagg Romney stating in public he wanted to punch the president? Enough already! Not a sports event, as someone stated.

    Another thing that was brought up right here --- much shorter campaign
    time. Six weeks would be good. We've had it by now!

    October 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  5. ImALibertarian

    Richmond, TX - One that included Gary Johnson would be enough

    October 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  6. Paul From Austin Texas

    One good one with all the issues and yes cold questions from the general public not selected ones. An odd ball could be shut down and removed. It most likely would have to be about 3 hours long. So far the current debates have gave very little answers to any issues or questions neither candidate have given any clear answers to anything.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  7. David of Alexandria VA

    I think 3 or 4 is the right number, provided that the have different foci (like, economy, role of government, foreign policy) and a final one which is mofre of an omnibus platform to show how it all comes together as a cohesive vision. Having said that, we also need absolutley unempeachably neutral moderators who can control the combatants and a rule that answers which don't address the consequence of position proffered (who's affected, when wold we see it, how much will it cost, how we pay for it) would be edited out in a tape delay.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  8. Ed from MD

    One debate and a guest appearance on Pawn Stars, since that's obviously their answer to the economy.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  9. jk in MN

    I'd say the current rate of 3 Presidential and one VP debate are needed for sure to give Americans the chance to actually hear them respond to questions. Especially with the unlimited and unaccountable Citizen's United money flowing in to misleading campaign ads from the SuperPACs, it may be necessary to have one more. I've found it helpful this time to hav e the TV on to listen to the debate, but not watch it. It helps to fucus on the subtance of what's saying and not watch any theatrics. I found the first debate based on content was closer than watching the theatric side even though I could hear that the President wasn't having the best of nights, I kept hearing thing out of Gov Romney that I hadn't heard the past year and a half and was surprised.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Ted

    A debate is nothing more than a staged event to see which person is the bigger fool. No matter what happens or who wins, America will come out the big loser again. God help us.....

    October 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  11. Ron from NC

    The 1st one was enough for me.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Don (Ottawa, ON)

    There will be three and three is enough. Debates are the only way we can hear and see political positions. Campaigns are nothing but staged theatrical road shows, they don't give you a real picture of the candidate, how he handles difficult questions, and how he reacts to criticism. Hopefully the next debate includes questions on environmental issues. This seems to have been omitted in both campaigns.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Phyllis G Williams

    How many presidential debates are enough?

    I would imagine that that is the Government's decision (Romans 13: 1),
    as human beings on a whole do not depend on debates for their decisions.
    They hope to confirm their already made decisions by debates.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Mel - Houston

    Just enough to let the minority party back in the game. Minority in this case is not a racial term. Actually it's the fat cat rich guy that has all the money in the world at his fingertips at his disposal. He just has one problem, he has to convince the people that liver taste like filet mignon.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  15. Gail, Plano TX.

    One. Or better still, none.

    The hypocrisy that surrounds tfe debates is absolutely obnoxious. Shaking hands at the onset, smiling, repeating this behavior at the end is ludicrous. The main purpose is for the audience to see the candidates eat each other alive. The bloodier, the better! It's kind of like the gladiators in ancient Rome.

    But it does give you guys something to talk about.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  16. Doug Ericson

    I would suggest having the Conventions in the Spring, so there could be more Presidential Debates. There are so many issues, that are just being glossed over in only three debates. There should be a series of debates covering one subject each, ending with debates on the individual subjects, the government spends the most money on. I know it would be tedious, but it would force the candidates to actually study the subjects they are debating on. If you were to ask Romney or Obama today, what a Mortgage Backed Security is, you would get the deer caught in the headlights stare for an answer. It would take at least 15 debates for the public to get truly informed, on how the candidates intend to Govern. A longer series of debates could be shortened to one hour. I know my own attention span for these debates last about 30 minutes. CNN can skip the on screen debate graph too. I have to switch the channel when the debate begins to avoid it. They are a distraction. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  17. Tom (Atlanta)

    Good question. With so much information flying about, with much of which being bias and/or just plain wrong, for those who would like to make a pragmatic choice, the debates are useful. But, we see so much of these guys on stage through the media already (granted much of which is bias, except CNN of course), it's painful to watch them. But, if we think our people have fought and died for this privilege, I think we should just "suck it up" and do it. We owe the country that much.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  18. Gary H. Boyd

    The current three Presidential and one Vice Presidential debates seems about right. It gives the two principals an opportunity to regroup if they screwed up during the first or second one (kinda like Obama did recently). And, certainly one Vice Presidential debate is more than enough. One can only take so much of that kind of Tom-foolery by you-know-who.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    October 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  19. randy

    It depends on how much money the media, corporate, government circle jerk brings in.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  20. tom Bulger, Canandaigua, ny

    One would be enough if Governor Romney were fact checked every time he opened his mouth.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  21. Gary in San Jose, California

    I think three is a good number. The first one was a warm up so it was kind of boring. The gloves hit ice at the beginning of the second one so it was not boring. The third should be very exciting.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  22. james in greenville nc

    One debate is plenty. In this day of 24 hour news we know what the candidates will say before they speak. One & done.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  23. Virginia - Atlanta

    I think that we need to ban all political ads, no matter who pays for them and have weekly debates. Maybe this will wear them down so some truth can come out. In the debates, they should be held to consistency and truth.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  24. Nora H G Corpus Christi

    Jack we have had enough. They each won one now so why do we need another. So the winner proves he was better in Debating Class, Big Deal!! Does that mean he is better at running the country? I know some undecided voter said to themselves, He is a good debater, I want him to run the country. People should not be allowed to vote I'd that is how they decided!!

    October 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  25. Pat, Idaho

    All of them, right now I'm so sick and tired of politics I could scream. We all know they won't do a damn thing they're arguing back and forth about, it's all about the BEST liar–

    October 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  26. Wilhelm in Las Vegas

    probably about the correct amount of debates BUT I would like to see them more "free form" like the debate Cnn's Candy Crowley moderated. I also think it makes the debate better when there is an audience asking the questions BUT there should be "follow up" questions allowed esp when the debaters do NOT answer the original question.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  27. LuvrRepublic

    No amount of debates are too much. What is too much are these liberal commentators that push their opinions during the debates. Ms. Candy Cowley has been the most obvious. Enough. How about debates with stop watches, or some conservative commentators. After all, liberals are for 'FAIRNESS'. Let be fair!

    October 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  28. Rafael Sanguily

    My guess is until most people realize that both candidates on are running on almost identical platforms of American Imperialism.... A better question would be, how many debates are necessary until third party candidates with ballot access in almost all 50 states are allowed to enter these "debates"? At least that way Americans can realize there are more than two options..,

    October 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  29. Kimmy, in beautiful NC

    We have had enough Jack... Bottom line is this... After the debates the media does a fact check and we find that Mr. Obama, exaggerated, was mistaken, or lied about the facts... then he goes on spending his donors hard earned money on Big Bird and Binders? Give me a break the American people are NOT a bunch of dumb rocks we don't need a debate, Obama has a record of High welfare, high unemployment and high debt. Romney when governor, had a balanced budget, higher grades for the students of his state and is his own man, he doesn't owe anything to anyone......

    October 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  30. brian flanagan

    I don't know how many is too many, but did you know that Romney's Binders of Women went "spiral" on You Tube?

    October 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

    tampa, fl since all 3rd party candidates were excluded, and our system rigged by the 2 major parties so that they don't have to have anyone nominated that would be eligible and capable to be president, NONE would have been fine. just another dog and pony show to me.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  32. Karl in Flint, MI

    I'd say when you get to the point that the challengers son wants to take a swing at the sitting president, it should be pretty much over. Not just the debate, but the entire race. Daddy should apologize and drop out and sonny boy should go to prison at that point.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  33. Loren, Chicago

    Before the debates started, I would have said none, but that was because I didn't think Romney had it in him to beat Mr. Charisma in a debate. Knowing now that he can hold his own, my only caveat on the number is that the moderator and the audience have to be evenly balanced. Since I don't watch them anyway, the more the merrier.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  34. Bert K., L.A., Cal

    Hi Jack, for voters to be informed, a best-of-seven, or as many as needed for one candidate to win four debates is what we need. Just like baseball where many people only watch the World Series, many people do not follow politics either until October and the presidential debates. We also need media umpires like Candy Crowley who instantly call out the strikes, the outs and can throw a candidate off the stage when necessary; “You’re outta here!” Voters will be cheering the umpires.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  35. Brad, Portland, OR

    I'd like to see a debate every week until the election.

    It's always good to hear what the candidates have to say, unfiltered by the media, spokespeople, or campaign commercials.

    I WOULD like there to be real-time fact-checking by the moderator or a research team in the background; if a candidate says something that's factually incorrect, I'd like to see the moderator call them on it, like Candy Crowley did in the last debate.

    A candidate is entitled to their own opinions and their own policies, but not their own facts.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  36. Bob in Ohio

    A debate with just the Republican and Democratic candidates is not a debate. Next Tuesday Larry King will be moderating a REAL debate among the various third party candidates who should have been included in the last two.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  37. Jerry A - Toronto

    After watching the two so far I think I've had enough. Romney comes across as a slick used car salesman pandering to his clients while Obama is too much like a professor lecturing his students. I do give Obama points for the heavy burden he’s had to deal with in his first term, and while not perfect, he hasn't screwed it up either. What I haven’t heard from either side is something new or of serious interest. What I have heard is a lot of he said she said and twisting of the facts (more so by Romney). The bottom line is politics has become too ugly. If this is how leaders of the free world treat a once honorable profession, then God help our children who aspire to be the President of the United State.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  38. Bob P. - Indiana

    Jack, why not have just one Lincoln/Douglas style debate without any moderator. The past three debates have been overly controlled by people who seemed to either promote their own agenda or subtly support one of the participants.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  39. Rich Texas

    Just one if it has substance. What baffles my mind is why a man needs to raise a billion dollars in campaign funds in order to win? It seems to me that the more people do not like what you stand for then the more money you must raise in order to counter that. Basically neither or these fellows is loved by more then 50 percent of the people and even fewer will probably waste the gas to go vote for either of them

    October 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  40. Pete in FL

    Since I don't believe in giving TV airtime to liars, one debate with Mitt Romney in it was more than enough. I've never seen a less-presidential candidate. However, giving credit where credit is due, seeing Mitt mangle the truth was enough to convince me to vote for Obama.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  41. Allan Placerville, ca

    NONE. They reveal nothing and are just shows. In fact all the last 4 years of campaigning is just " smoke and mirrors ' They all say one thing but never follow thru when they win.It is just money wasted. Why would the rich spend millions on a candidate if not to buy them? Nuff said.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  42. DT - Saint Paul, MN

    Irrelevant. I don't really care for these arguments of posturing. With the resources these guys have, they should be able to provide detailed information about their plans of action. I want first and foremost, Romney's list of deductions and loopholes to be closed. I want this because if he promises something, the American people should be able to hold him accountable. Then, even more importantly, I want the People's opinion on the actions he plans to take. Congress should be informally polled to find the validity of his claims. I can pretty much guarantee he will not get the full support of Congress on his plans. So why should he be able to lie and say he will?

    October 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  43. Jim in Illinois

    One is to many! All they do is lie and blow smoke no matter which party they represent.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  44. execspec

    Jack, with the way that both candidates were disrespecting each other , the two that have been held is enough. On the other hand , if these two would act as honorable men then I don't believe that you could have too many.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  45. John from Alabama

    Jack: I believe two presidential debates are enough, and one vice presidential debate. I would like to see a panel discuss with each candidate without all the noise. Each candidate would have to answer 3 to 6 questions with a opening and closing statements from each candidate to CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. The candidates would not be together. This would be best from the networks for 90 minutes. No arguing or pacing around a stage. Let the candidates answer the questions. Air each panel discussion on all channels involved at preset time. I know, fat chance!!

    October 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  46. Jim Charlotte NC

    Does zero ring a bell

    October 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  47. Gary-Woodhaven, Michigan

    As we once again base our decisions and attempt to build a society and a consciousness on false ideologies, half truths, distortion of facts, and outright lies, I would say debates and our current election process makes us look like fools.

    Democracy is a wonderful element of culture when it is based on absolute truth, and we are far from that.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  48. Gordon from Virginia

    I think 2 debates would be enough. That way if one of the candidates lays an egg in the first debate he, or she would have another chance to have a do over. Debates tend to favor the candidate who is behind in the polls so for that I think it's a good thing. Not much more is learned in debates. So why have more then 2. There usually isn't anything new to hear just the same old rhetoric. The only thing gained is to see who looks more Presidential.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  49. Phil

    Mr. Cafferty, you should really get behind this idea and maybe some serious thought will be put into it. The Town Hall Forum is pointless and annoying. The 80 + (undecided) may get the eye contact from the President or the Candidate but the answer and response is rarely in connection w/ the actual question asked. Talking points and stump speeches take priority. A poite slap to the oppenents face and interruption to maintain a dominate view. Its a show to pump up each candidates base and allows a more confrontational style atmosphere. Instead of that, put all 4 Candidates on a platform behind the tradition debate style booth. Let both President & VP go head to head in a tag team style event. Every thing is out on the table 2 vs. 2 NOW THAT I WOULD WATCH!

    October 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  50. wayne, va beach, va

    Two, Jack. One domestic, one foreign policy. BUT, while one is speaking, the other is locked in a soundproof box where he can hear but cannot speak. This interrupting and acting like a fool needs to stop. No one learns anything.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  51. Rick McDaniel

    If we see media orchestrated debates again, I think we will have had TOO MANY. This last debate was clearly an orchestrated debate, designed in advance to address some of the criticisms, of Obama and his administration, by taking a line out of context from a speech, and attempting to apply it where it was a LIE! To make matters worse, the moderator did that, in a town hall format, which was totally out of LINE for the moderator.

    This administration, clearly was, at best, trying to dissuade the public from putting any blame for the deaths of Americans, at their doorstep, when in fact blame belongs on their doorstep, as they had denied increased security in Libya, despite the fact that 2 previous attacks had ALREADY taken place on that embassy.

    Then they try to deflect from their responsibility, by claiming the republicans had denied funding, which was a total lie as well, as they were blaming a proposed budget, which was NEVER implemented!

    The truth is.......they did deny additional security, and they did sign the death warrants for those Americans, as result!

    They just don't want the truth talked abot, because they are afraid the voters won't like it! Well, they are right about that!

    October 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  52. calaurore9

    PuppMitt the Massachusetts moderate or Mitt the Marionette whose PuppetMasters are the TeaParty and NeoCons? You never know which one will show up. Obama may or may not show up at all. I say the more the debates, the better.

    Carol in Northampton, Ma

    October 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  53. bob z.

    it's time to take the debates out of cnn hands

    October 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

    To me its very simple i am a hispanic women race is not issue for me i dont like his socialist tendency plain and simple to much goverment not enough jobs.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  55. Jack

    One debate is too many. They are a complete waste of time and money. I would not watch one unless of course
    you were the moderator.
    Jack Ga.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  56. Steve,NY

    One is all you need. It's the same story over and over. Let me give you an example. Obama has said that he wants to raise taxes on households that are making over $250,000 a year. He has been saying it for 4 years. What the hell are you waiting for, do it. Tommorrow morning when you wake up do it. You're the President. Don't tell me the Replicans won't let you.
    I have two questions for Obama:
    1)What makes you think that the Republicans will let you do it next year??
    2) You had Democratic majority in both houses the first two years in office and you didn't do it, so what makes you think you can do it next year?

    It's all talk and no action. People are fed up wth all this talking.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  57. Cee. La.

    With the undecided voters still out there. maybe there is never enough...I have made the call to vote for Obama/Biden and I havent seen anything from the Romney/Ryan team to overturn my call.......

    October 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  58. Guest

    It's about his race stupid!

    October 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  59. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    After all the information we have received, endless discussions on numerous television programs and constant mailings, many, many articles in newspapers and magazines and two face to face debates. If you do not now know who you feel best represents your views on country an government, you have serious problems.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  60. Brian

    I would love a good debate; if they were not "politicians" doing the debating.
    Politicians are liars, cheats and thieves so it's not surprising when I watch a debate and not learn anything substantial.

    Not only that, but Romney's "I won't raise taxes" holds about as much water for me as when the first Bush said "I will not raise taxes!!!"

    October 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  61. John Grahamslaw

    Jack its not about QUANTITY its about QUALITY – the existing format produces over rehearsed theatre with and no real answers. Give me real town hall setting with open doors to the public and the debaters facing their electorate cold any day.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  62. WR Jones, FL

    These debates have proven to be invaluable in exposing both parties strengths and weaknesses, had it not been for Romney's performance in the first debate this would be a different election. The American people can never have enough information when it comes to deciding who will serve for the next four years, debates are the single best way for an a voter to get an honest look at those who would President, so let them face each other, let them argue, debate, and take shots, this is the American way.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  63. D William in Lowell MA

    I think there should be 4, 2 for the president and 2 for the vice president. They should be town meeting style and exclude any questioning from the beltway media morons. Each debate should concentrate on 1 or 2 issues facing the country and should only last 1 hour.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  64. Phil, Philadelphia

    Probably should have had a couple of more eartlier so Americans can see Mitt Romney earlier and get an understanding of what his views are so he can't try to do a quick flip-flop before people can find out who he really is. Its sad when Romney can just claim any positions or policies without being held accountable; he can just lie to the American people especially those who don't follow politics as much and trick them into buying a false product. Media really needs to find better ways of getting the TRUTH out and not allowing Politicians to get over on Americans. Thats part of Media's job, Moral Obligation to get at the truth and present a FACTUAL STORY. Not a bipartisan story but a FACTUAL...wherever the facts lead. If one side is Lying more than the other.....than so be it if the coverage is lop-sided....the one side needs to learn to start telling the truth.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  65. Gigi Oregon

    I think with today's techknowledge we don't need debates. We can find their records for ourselves. I have Goggled everything I wanted to know about both candidates and also the members of congress. I compiled all information in a notebook for reference. I wanted to know about Romney's record as a governor and goggled it, his religion, etc. Everything but his tax records. Since I could not get that his name went in the waste basket and President Obama has my vote.

    Simple as that. Now if we could fix vote fraud in the RED states maybe we could have fair and honest elections. And let the Supreme Court return our country back to one vote per citizen and NO campaign money from "the Elite" to buy elections.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  66. rene olguin

    jack thanks for your great work

    rather than the quantity of debates, shouldn't we be more concerned with the quality? how about a judge that delivers a decision on who wone? .. any high school student that has studied REAL debates, knows that there is a lot lacking in these and other political "debates" ...for example in a real debate if you present falsehoods or bogus evidence (lies) you automatically lose...

    October 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  67. chris

    it is nott eh quanity necessary but quaility of how they can answer questions we need answered in order to better choose who would be better we need more input from people the taxpayers that is all over the u.s can get intro it and let the answers be more than 2 minutes to better inform us of to better our choice on nov every 4 tears

    October 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  68. Brian in IL

    I'm not sure any are really necessary, but this year's triple crown(not counting the VP debate) is like a combination of a three-ring circus and the political version of the Super Bowl. How many of us will celebration once the big day passes regardless of who is elected because we won't have to worry about it again for four years. But again, it does seem as though, especially since the advent of the big news network, that the season of political drama never ends.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  69. BrainTurnedOff

    The debates are like NASCAR races: people watch them for their crashes. No matter how well you planned for it, wrecks do happen, but you can start over in the next race/debate. When the season is over you have a champion. But you can take only so much excitement, so three debates plus one are certainly enough. But please cut the advertisements – they are going on my nerves.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  70. Dan from New York

    Two were enough. I think they served their purpose. let's get this over with... the 2016 campaign wants to get started in three weeks. Handlers, spinmiesters, pollsters, and the media have got to eat too you know!

    October 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  71. Evan of Durham NC

    Given the increasing surge of reality shows, which I call the dumbing down of America hour, I wouldn't be surprised if televised Presidential debates become a thing of the past. Just like reality shows, its clear people are only looking to be entertained and not to get fully informed. With all of the serious topics, a comment like "a binder full of women" is the most talked about right now? Romney would have been better served to just use one Honey Boo Boo lines..."a dollar make you holla honey boo child" The dumbing down of America. Unbelievable

    October 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  72. Susan from Ca

    Keep those debates coming, Romney just washed his tongue and he can't do a thing with it.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  73. r.landschoot

    all are polysyllabic nothingless, because whatever subject is covered will be forgotten after election.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  74. Ken in Victoria BC

    Well I watched the two debate an the VP debate. I think it was entertaining. Mr. Obama is consistence, where as Romney is a flop flopper. Ryan was a weak as water.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  75. Thom Richer

    Three is a good number. Any less would only confuse us more. Any more would bore us more. Two out of three will determine a winner. If you happen to miss a debate or two, you can always download their ads and hear the same things.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    October 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  76. Rich Texas

    I have yet to see a debate. Yes i watched the two talking point matches but have yet to see them debate anything. If this is the best America has to offer for president then we are in a whole lot of trouble.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  77. Jim in Denver, CO

    Three works for me. You need the odd number to have a clear winner (whatever that means). What is needed is a firm rule or agreement for the candidates to directly answer the questions and get to the point. Otherwise the moderator should be allowed to call them on it and get the answer.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  78. Norm

    You are right.........................just answer the question!

    October 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  79. Tom in Illinois

    One debate. Hook them both up to lie detector machines and let them talk. Then we will get different answers then we are getting now.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  80. Mark


    One debate should be enough. Let's do a couple hours and shut this thing down. I think there should be a panel of questioners...... from both parties. call them specialists if you will that are very knowledgeable in certain areas. Take for example Rep Issa as an expert on domestic issues that are non-economic. Maybe a member of the Black Congressional Caucus on race issues etc...... that ought to get the heat turned up. I'm sure that Obama would welcome questions from Issa about as much as Mitt would enjoy questions from Sheila Jackson Lee LOL

    October 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  81. Steve

    I'm fine with three debates. I haven't watched a single one, and, I won't watch the third, however from watching the highlights the following morning, a person of sound mind and judgment can make an educated assessment of the character of the characters.

    Hanover, Maryland

    October 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  82. George in PA

    To steal a line from the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar, "one's too many and a million isn't enough".

    October 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  83. Bill in VA

    Debates are a good idea in theory. But the town hall format has to go. I prefer the two candidates and a moderator such as was done in the first debate and the vp debate (though I would lose the vp debate altogether. I also prefer a moderator that moderates and doesn't step in to take sides. Let each of the participants take care of themselves.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  84. Craig Adams MD

    The debates have been good Jack. I still wonder though what Romney is hiding in his taxes? Why he will not tell us his plans re taxes and just how soon after he takes the oath would he start another Republican war. The President's plans have been working– slow but sure- what a bad time to change horses!

    October 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  85. Bill in VA

    I guess Should have said that three is a good number in my earlier post

    October 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  86. Sylvia from San Diego

    Our entire election process needs to be reformed – cut down to 1 month. During this month, 4 debates (one each week) should be plenty. Each candidate will be given a budget (same amount of money for each candidate) which they can use as they see fit (but only during the month). Instead, we have a president who has been on the road campaigning for over 1 year instead of working with the Congress to fix the economy...... PLEASE LORD, GIVE OBAMA HIS WALKING PAPERS – I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF HIS LIES AND INCOMPETENCE......

    October 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  87. Coming in sense

    Jack, like they say in Real estate " First offer is usually the best offer " further viewings not necessary.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  88. Sebastian Bliffeld


    First off I have no doubt that Obama is not desperate; he has proven himself in more areas that I care to list. I do agree with you that if I watched the debate, I really don't need some political hack telling me what I saw. However that is how it works in this country. I can't wait to see how this election turns out. You guys tend to present it as dooms day. I truly hope Obama land slides it and puts CNN on notice that you are all being paid to just pull stuff out of thin air. It's really a shame. My daughter is going to be ten and watches CNN with me. She asks me why it sometimes seems as if the media has already decided who the next president will be? Good question don't you think. S0 I ask you Jack to not be a Hack. Respectfully


    October 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  89. No ...cafferty isnt biased at all eh? CNN are so full of it

    "As for Romney, there's always the chance he'll show up to the last debate with binders full of flip-flops"

    gee jack....how do you really feel? lol...

    since when is it not ok for one to cxhange one's mind after careful consideration and in some cases, years of it...seems obama is allowed to change his mind(immigration, defence of marriage, dont ask dont tell, extension of tax cuts, basically anything that will get him votes) but no, not romney.He's not allowed.

    hey jack ....get a real job huh? you're too old anyhow for this...you've become a complete crank.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  90. Carol Sherman

    Jack it is because whenever he, POTUS, does anything at all his critics twist the facts. Just like in these comment that you are receiving. There are so many examples, but I will give you two, that it has said is the most important of the issues. It was said that President Obama did not do his job when the news of the tragedy at the Embassy and went on campaigning. President Obama immediately addresses the American public in the most appropriate way when it was under investigation. The media was running wild with the report POTUS received on the alleged video. The President continued to say it was under investigation, but if it was an act of terror then we would hunt them down. In other words he did not panic and hit the Red Button. On the other hand Mr. Romney (no longer govenor) use the incorrect facts as a politic al platform and continued to do so at the debate. Mr. Romney's bully tactics gains media attention which gives sheep fuel. Sheep are people who do not do their own thinking, by educating themselves with the facts, which are from the media, which often has a distorted view depending on which side of the fence they lean. A good example is Christian broadcasting or media that distorts the news to fit their perspective as well. The second example of the division is the reports on First Lady Obama clapping, again distorted to believe she was breaking the rules, but not one mention of Ann Romney scatching her cheek with her middle finger twice and stopped when she realized she was on camera. It was not an accident as she turned her head and touched her middle finger to her cheek. Realizing she had been caught on camera she again reached up turned toward the camera and scratched her cheek. Accidently or not she would be under scrutiny as the First Lady. Her and her husband's behavior is abhorable and the division is primarialy political parties. This country needs to come together to get things done. Obama has offered the other side to join his attempts and propose their ideas, but change is difficult. It is like bad habits. This country has been in a bad habit for a very long time and is easy to revert back to the old ways and complain. The closest comparison I can think of is being overweight and dieting. When people to not reach the desired weight loss because the body cannot undo what took a long time to do, they blame the diet and abondon it. Obama has not abondoned this country, no matter what anyone what's to fool themselves into believing. He can make a mistake, owe up to it, and look for the problem, learn from it and change. Mr. Romney is the same old broken record. When he opens his mouth I know exactly what he will say, the same lies he constanly is caught telling, but I guess if you say them long enough (brainwashing) people will believe it.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  91. Dave

    Jack, I think two or three is about right. I agree that we’re seeing rehearsed responses and talking points, but there’s a certain value in seeing how these guys think on their feet. After all, if either of them ever had to face an adversarial dictator to discuss matters of global or national security, I’d like to know we’ve got somebody who can put together a coherent sentence without stammering like an idiot or repeating a bunch of lame accusations. This last debate said a lot.

    Dave in Ohio

    October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  92. Ivan, Marion,Ohio

    I have no problem with the number 3,It would even be more easy to take if the candidate Romney would stay the course on what he believes,the direction he thanks the country should go,which he hasn't done all though the debates.In President Obamas case he hasn't change his stance,or has stayed the course and direction he thanks the country should be going.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  93. jnpa

    Binders full of flip flops? LOL – I love that! Please note he didn't say "binder", he said "binders"..LOL

    October 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  94. dollface

    Binders full of flip-flops, that's good.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  95. SnehDavis

    " ...these events are almost always a triumph of style over substance." I am with you there, Jack! So, my answer is ZERO! And while at it, tell the so-called "undecided voters" we are no more going to perform these exercises pretending to get them out of the fog. The first shoutout will come from me the next campaign season, if anyone dares schedule a debate making undecided voters the questioners. I promise.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  96. Mark.....in Houston

    One is enough Jack

    Any future presidential debate should be monitored by an in place panel of fact checkers who immediately call a candidate on his or her BS including evading questions. After one night of that there probably wouldn't be a candidate willing to participate in a second.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  97. Carol Sherman

    After rereading my post I see there are some grammatical errors that need correcting, but it is important to correct when I said she would be under scrutingy (Ann Romney) as the First Lady and is under the same scrutiney a the potiential First Lady. The country will continue to be divided until the media assumes some responsibility for sesationalizing everything Obama does while giving Mr. Romney a get out of jail free card.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  98. RickFromDetroit

    Good question! Many people who I have talked to did not watch the debate, but they can tell you who won. Why? Someone told them. Then there are the ones who did watch the debate and came up with a reason why their favorite candidate won. How many debates are enough? Well, how many times do you have to teach a grade school student the multiplication tables? Until they get the right answers! If we apply this standard to presidential debates, then we should hold weekly debates covered by all networks and local TV stations until we can grill the facts into the voters. If this does not produce results, then we should require questionnaires at the polling places to determine if voters are qualified to make a sensible selection as to who should run this country. The GOP should approve of this, since they have tried to change voter eligibility during this election year, but the GOP voters would probably produce the highest failing grade to qualify to vote.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  99. mary

    if any has a binder full of flip -flops it is Obama. He can not even get his story right on Benghaze .
    You are still trying to get him a elected by say things about Rommey why don't you bring up issues about Obama.Their are plenty out their about him why not try and be fair and give Rommey a break Beside sixty one million heard what Rommey said abot the binders. Give me a break

    October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  100. Dave in WA

    We had too few Presidential debates and too many Republican primary debates. I think that was designed to ensure Republicans saturated the airwaves as much as possibly.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  101. Ben from Boston

    The more debates the better – one a week from Labor Day until the election. I think this would give us a chance to hear almost everything they have to say on a larger array of topics.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  102. Eazy

    I still don't understand how anyone with a heart can vote for Romney.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  103. Jeff

    One would be enough if we could get an actual debate and get moderators out of the way. Ask the question, start the clock, and when time's up; turn off their microphone, pan the camera back to the moderator, and move on to the next person or question.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  104. KB and JB - central Florida

    How many are enough? when you have a biased, uncompromising "referee/modertor" then you might as well have none...which is what we just saw with that woman...obviously favoring one candidate over the other.

    if it's possible to have a "fair/unbiased" debate, the more the better to see the candidates a little closer and maybe more realistic – and more likely to show the "good, the bad and the ugly" ...true colors as we did manage to see a bit in the first one (in spite of the moderator).

    October 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  105. Jeff In Minnesota

    These are not debates, these are just two hour long political advertisements. I have been to high school debates that were more substantive and better conducted. What a waste of people's time.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  106. Lisa s N.J

    These debates were more like a bad reality show. I have never seen such poor moderating or such unprofessional candidates. It was an embarrassment the media is partly responsible for this cartoon like campaign. Journalism is dead in America. They are no objective honest people left in the modern age of media.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  107. Joel

    Replace the ads and pundits with REAL debates. How many? 1 a week for the last four weeks before the election. Then nothing before. And I mean nothing. Keep you primaries, your conventions, and all the BS inbetween. Give me a slate of candiates and let them talk. As already stated elsewhere, let them have notes and an assistant. Let's elect a real President, not a talking head! I want details not grandiose ideas.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  108. Bill Woessner

    Zero. These candidates have been campaigning for 5 years now. Do we really think the debates are going to reveal new information about them?

    October 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  109. bob

    Actually, I'd like to see one real debate, unmoderated. Not a question and answer session. And, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who decides on voting based on a single debate or pseudo-debate performance is flat-out stupid. This isn't a sporting event, as much as masses of uneducated people seem to want it to become.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  110. Joan Bach

    Indeed, too much "show". Two debates are adequate and we can see "what is what"...who is giving us facts and who if full of baloney.
    Campaigns should be no longer than six months and the candidates should all be given equal amount of
    money to work with, both equal free time on TV...and ALL WOULD BE ON EQUAL FOOTING. Too much
    corruption results from Super Pacs, from Lobbyists (K Street should be shut down as well). The Constitution gives Americans the right to "petition their Gov't", however there is no rights to bribe candidates and that is
    exactly what is going on these days. Time to clean up the crap.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  111. Michael Sullivan

    Jack, one debate is enough. All the candidates have to do is to answer the questions succinctly and honestly. They have to stop all the BS and repeating themselves.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  112. Eric Dodson

    Six Debates. Three should be televised so we can see them in all their theatrical grandeur (or lack thereof), and three should be broadcast on the radio in audio only so we would be forced to actually listen to them and focus on what they are saying rather than whether one candidate appears to be sleeping at the podium, or appearing to drink too much water, or smiling too much, or get post-analysis on their bar stool sitting technique.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  113. justaman

    Wonderful points, Mr. Cafferty. Oh but lest I ramble on and on, repeating in "my own words" everything that you've said, and finish with a self-absorbed grin, totally ignoring your question....let me answer! There need not be any debates UNLESS answering the question posed was a requirement BEFORE opening one's mouth! Truthfully, zero is probably a good number period.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  114. Don from SF

    enough already....

    October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  115. Tim

    Pittsburgh, PA
    We are fortunate that we had Obama the last four years to make so didnt go into a depression. The hard and unpopular stimulas probably kept that from happening. He is our best option for the next four year because the republicans will work with him since it would be his last term.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  116. Ken Ross

    I would say at least 4, including one in which all candidates are invited who are on enough ballots to make it statistically possible to win an electoral college majority such as the one occurring on Oct. 23 moderated by Larry King.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  117. Jay

    You are right. Style seems to be the ONLY determining factor in saying who won each debate. Ridiculous.
    If somebody looks good just telling bald-faced lies and then he "wins" the next day poll how stupid are we??? Plenty stupid I would say.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  118. RinosRwinos

    The debates have turned into verbal brawls and sparring matches. I don't think they need anymore debates since we are not really becoming any better informed on the issues at these debates. It has just turned into a spectacle with each side looking for a blood or a knockout punch. You can learn more about the candidates by reading their websites and party platforms.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  119. Terri from Blountville, TN

    2 would be great if they were true debates rather than then campaigns make agreements to rules. More than 1 moderator should be involved so that you don't have one of the campaigns in clutching their chests in horror due to implied moderator bias. To the campaigns, stop blaming the moderator when your candidate screws up.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  120. jason of Iowa

    Really, only one well-moderated debate is needed. The moderator for the VP debate was awesome. Fact-checking in real time is absolutely essential to a well-moderated debate. Keeping candidates from veering off topic and trying to insert talking points or general claims and promises is also absolutely essential – unless of course the conversation then steers towards how those promises would come to fruition.

    I think that as long as the candidates are both expressing new, relevant, and accurate information, it should go on for as long as it takes for the candidates to run out of things to say. Neither candidate should ever speak any ill of each other – each should essentially be taking turns debating the moderator, who should ideally have an entire legion of fact checkers for every topic to be discussed: economic, mathematical, historical, legal, geographical, and so on. This would be a debate everyone needs to see and even is accommodating of third parties. But it only has to happen once.

    I'm tired of seeing opinions and news coverage about body language. That does not matter. Facts matter. Stick to them please, journalists!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  121. Paul

    More then one Town Hall debate that is for sure. Watching Mitt Romney dodge a question from a woman 5 feet away from him about equal pay or watching him try to politicize Lybia was very telling.

    President Obama stumbled also and dodged, but it was much better to see them answering actual questions and not just spouting one line zingers.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  122. Henk Vandenbergh

    Three is enough. This may well be the very last debate ever. If Obama get re-elected this country will be in such deep problems in four years that we may not need presidential elections anymore.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  123. Steve

    I would be happy to see at least one with all candidates that have a mathematical chance of winning. Stop the exclusion of ideas....aren't we supposed to be the leaders of the FREE world?

    October 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  124. Dave

    I believe debates are useless and the only people who seem to really care about them are the media. You said it perfectly, "You have the handlers pulling the candidates' strings. You have coaches, contributors, advisers putting words in the candidates' mouths." Does the American public really believe this is the way to decide who they should vote for – who was the best puppet, who laughed when they should have, had the wittiest comeback, etc. Decide who you will vote for based on their policy and plan, not through a circus show called a debate.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  125. Rick

    Get rid of coverage of the spin room! No one in the spin room is running for office, their opinions don't matter. Let us make our own decisions, media!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  126. Coming in sense

    Jack, we can have one two hour debate as doubles with the candidates and their running mates together and we can have multiple moderators too.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  127. Ron

    I think the best debate would be one moderated by both of the candidates' mothers – no holds barred. The mothers would certainly call out the other candidate's flaws make him defend his positions.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  128. Mr. D

    What's left to be said? Enough already! If words could solve all the problems this country has, let them talk 'till the cows come home. But they won't. Talk about "over exposure." How about lights, camera, action-real action (in the halls of Congress).

    October 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  129. lynnej in NC

    I think that there should be an open debate where candidates should have to interact with the man/woman on the street, including a cross section of people from all walks of life.

    Also, all third, fourth or fifth parties etc. should be invited.

    The parties, Dem and GOP should not have control of the debate process. All they need to know is the time and show up bascially coming in blind, kind of what we do when we vote for them.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  130. Ed D

    II think there should be more emphasis on the Town Hall variety – perhaps as the 1st & 3rd debate. The audience (not the moderator) should be given the ability to acknowledge if they feel a question has been adequately answered, via a little keypad or similar device. I've learned absolutely nothing new from either candidate, via the debates, that I haven't already researched.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  131. H. Rose

    Three would be about right. Ms. Crowley did a very good job. I like that type of debate best, where the audience asks the questions.
    Don't let the canidates know the questions to be asked.
    No romney type belittleing of ms. Crowley or Prez. Obama.
    Shut off their Mike after 2 minutes.
    Let each questioner follow up if they don't answer the question.
    It is sad when they evade the question or say you will find out if I get elected.
    I would never vote for someone that won't tell me before elected, as they are not going to do as you want, such as womens rights. That isn't abortion it is Paps test, breast screening etc.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  132. Anne

    I think one debate for the presidential contenders/one for the vp contenders. This particular race is the prime example. By the end of the republican primaries we knew where Romney stood. We obviously knew the president's position on the issues. Thus if the presidential candidates knew they only had one chance they'd be forced to present their positions concisely.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  133. john

    Three is ok. I am sick and tired of the obvious liberal bias of all of the moderators. Candy Crowley should have been fired for her intervention, particularly when she was wrong on what she tried to correct Governor Romney on. Governor Romney was right. Her obviously partisan intervention was a joke.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  134. John in upstate NY

    One, with live fact checking.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  135. ronvan

    ONE, 1, ONE: That is enough! Just the same old thing said in a different manner.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  136. ken

    None, both candidates distort the truth, change positions, and don't answer the questions.
    There should be a panel of moderators fact checking and demanding real answers to real questions.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  137. ed in ohio

    jack i'd rather listen to a presidential debate everyday than listen to you whining about how horrible this country is...with your salary why in the hell haven't you switched countrys...i'll pay for the move

    October 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  138. Kenny Peagler


    I think 2 are enough but truthfully, if most Americans paid attention to all aspects of both parties, they can make an educated decision on their own; not one that's based on lively talking points, unanswered questions and style. On the contrary, I love the housewives and don't mind some "garbage" every now and then

    October 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  139. Bobby Whipkey

    One more. No moderator, just let them duke it out (verbally) for an hour and a half

    October 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  140. Curtis

    Two. One on domestic policy and one on foriegn policy. The moderator should have more ability to correct the canidents on their lies.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  141. Johnny - NC

    the number of debates is not the question...it's the format. as you stated, the participants don't answer the questions and simply use the time to attack the other guy. the moderator should have the ability to loop back and force the candidates to answer the questions and prevent them from overly attacking their opponent. now that i think about it, i just answered this question like a debate participant :))

    October 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  142. Angela University Place Washington

    There should be no debates, however everyone should be required to vote at age 18, especially if they receive any type of benefit from the gov. and take some responsibility for how the country progresses.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  143. knock out

    This debate has become like HBO Paperview fight night: Except it's free- In this last debate Iron Mike knocks out many times.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  144. Marcus T

    With only a two party system, who knows! I want more options Jack, not more debates.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  145. LMC

    Debates never sway me and I wouldn't depend on a debate to make up my mind. The one impression debates have made on me this year is that Romney can not be trusted–his answers change with the political winds!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  146. Brian

    We knew who the candidates were months ago why didn't they start debating in June, July, August I want them to answer questions. Why not a new debate in each week. I still don't know what either will do if they win. I do know they love to bicker with each other but how will they govern? How will they work with congress and make the deals we need for our future.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  147. Aaron Lattanzi

    As Wolf said, the more the merrier! Clearly the biggest problem with debates is candidates reverting to the same stale talking points we've been hearing for months. But the more debates we have, particularly with varied questions that can catch candidates off guard, the better we can discern a candidate's true positions. Remember that these men and women are competing for the most powerful job in the world. It's the duty of the employer, the American people, to thoroughly and requently vet these candidates and see where they stand. It's a hallmark of the democratic process.

    Aaron from East Lyme, Connecticut

    October 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  148. Sandra in Texas

    None, zip, nada. Debates are pointless. The pundit dissection is worthless. It's all about analysis and style now. Substance rarely gets through. Instead, we should require that the candidates supply, in writing, answers to specific questions regarding the economy, foreign policy, healthcare and environment. Then we can read for ourselves the candidates intentions, or in some cases, we will clearly see that they are avoiding giving specifics. This would take away the pointless cheerleading and spin. Now that would be refreshing.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  149. Shawn

    The more the better but could the please include all candidates. Only having these two to choose from is not true democracy. If these two guys were as great as they believe themselves to be they would allow Gary Johnson and the other candidates to be on stage with them. Wait, then people may think they have a choice.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  150. tim, Garland,TX

    the real president is obama, romney is a fake like G.W. Bush after all he is the one who got us in this mess and stole the election for Al Gore. if Romney is elected he will let the rich skate by without paying thier fair share and that Mr Cafferty most of us dont need

    October 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  151. JENNA Roseville CA

    How many presidential debates are enough?

    Three is a good number. But I would have liked to see them done every two weeks vs two back to back like this..

    Roseville CA

    October 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  152. Steve

    How 'bout 6? Every Sunday night, 6 weeks before the election BUT then NO TV ads, robo calls, etc. Americans would totally pay attention then and not hate politics!


    October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  153. Farhad

    In order to see who these men really are, and not allow the ring masters to train and coach them, I think there should be an hour of debate every night for 30 days. I think only then will we see the real candidate come out. Put them under pressure....

    October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  154. Jackie

    We don't need any debates because the media and spin doctors debate the debates better than the candidates do! It doesn't surprise me at all that the last two debates were more about the moderators than the candidates platforms. Why would we possibly pick apart the candidates answers when it seems to be much more fun to hang the ridiculous performances around the necks of the moderators. We are so used to hearing the non-answer answers and gaffes that these debates have become more of a train wreck than a forum for the candidates to really swing voters.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  155. Corey

    They should be broken up into certain topics for each debate. Foreign policy, Trade, Immigration, Military, Social issues, Budget, ect. There is nothing worse than changing the subject just as you are starting to learn what the candidates really believe. How many debates did the Republican primaries have? Yet we only have 3 for the presidency? Doesn't make sense. And it would be nice as many others have pointed out that there should be a timeline when a candidate can start to campaign. I think we can all agree that the around the year campaigning is getting old. And wether you are left or right it would be nice to get big business out of our political process. There is something very wrong when a handful of billionaires can have such a impact on our government. When those handful of people can counteract the will of millions there is something wrong.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  156. Carol Ann

    We may want to share a bit of history prior to the question: In 1960, Richard Nixon and John Kennedy participated in the first general presidential debates. Presidential debates didn’t reemerge until the 1976 election, largely because the candidates refused to take part and because the Communications Act of 1934 required that networks give equal air time to every candidate. In 1975, the Federal Communications Commission changed their equal-time rules to allow the broadcast of debates by major party candidates as long as they are considered “bona-fide news events, sponsored by non-broadcast entities, and carried in their entirety.” The League of Women voters stepped in and sponsored the debates from 1976 to 1988, when the Commission on Presidential Debates was established.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  157. Teresa from PA

    1 debate with 1 non-biased moderator.

    Ms. Crowley reminded me of the compassionate teacher who whispers the answer to the struggling learner, which in the end does help them. Does our President really need this help? If so, that's scary.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  158. Mike M

    All the money they raise could balance the budget. I say 1 debate and if we are still undecided lock them in a closet with 1 broom stick. The winner walks out.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  159. Sally

    The debates should be more than 3. 1% of wealthy people in America are now revolting because Obama is saying that they should pay taxes. That shows to say that those are the percentage of people going along with what Romney says. What would happen to the other percentage. They need more than 3 debates that way they can show the people that they really know what they are talking about. That would give us more reassurance.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  160. Andrew Tucker

    The answer to your question is easy. One per state. I'm tired of a few states deciding the outcomes of an election and the states that reliably vote one way or the other are ignored. Yes, my state, Kentucky, held the VP debate. But, how many times have the Mr Obama or Mr Romney been here to campaign? One per state and people can demand answer for their question. Lincoln v. Douglas.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  161. Tom Barrister

    Jack: with most candidates 3 or 4 would be about right.. With these two candidates, even one is too many, unless the sound is muted. They waste so much time interrupting each other and whining about whose turn it is that there isn't much time left to address the issues.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  162. Eric

    As long as only two voices are heard, no debates are needed. Only the voice of the minority will drive the majority to respond to true ails of our country.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  163. mensasage

    Two are enough. Both Lincoln-Douglas style debates for three hours with just a time keeper. One as soon as the nominees are picked and one three weeks before the election.
    If the media wouldn't distort and maximize comments like "binders" to fill air time, the country would be better served.
    The American people are smart enough to make up their own minds. Your help is not needed.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  164. Austin

    Jack, the 2008 Democratic Primary was absolutely perfect. I, for one, couldn't get enough of their debates. Think of all the issues that were covered in the 2008 Democratic Primary debates. No issue was untouched in the end. Do you think people aren't interested? Everyone still watched them. In the end, there were so many debates that they could no longer hide behind evasive techniques. Three debates and a veep debate isn't enough. If we had ten more, we'd get to know who the candidates really are - in their own words rather than how the pundits and media portray them.

    Davenport, the Great State of Iowa

    October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  165. slobodanka

    AS many as Cafferty files!!!!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  166. Vote 2012

    shut up Jack, you're just another angry old right wing conservative and you're mad because President Obama won the debate with a come back and TKO'd your boy Mitten.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  167. Don in Toronto

    We're stuck with 3 this time 'round...the "rubber match" as it were. In the future, any number more than 1 requires some lag time...weeks or months...not days. Even boxers get a break after they've taken a beating...as both these combatants have...

    October 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  168. Phil

    2 are enought. But put the candidates in a sound proof room and if they don't answer the question directly, turn off their mic. and go to the next candidate.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  169. larry in St.Jo,MO.

    These debates are just inane. You learn absolutely nothing by watching. If they think it’s, “entertainment”, they are wrong. I switched off from the boring pain of it all. Makes me suspicious of our government and I don’t enjoy that feeling one bit.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  170. Chris (ohio)

    Jack they should have no debates! All the debates consist of are two grown men nit picking at each other, while they divide the country in the process.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  171. Jyothi, St.Louis,MO

    Zero. Debates are not a way to assess the future president. Romney did great in the first debate. But would that add to his credibility ? Nope !!!
    Debates can act negatively to a good candidate also if they fail to perform well. Someone can Romney can spend all their time in rehearsing and do very well in the debate.
    America voted for Obama in 2008 , not because of his outstanding debate performances, but because of his ideas and vision for our country, his global knowledge, his deterministic nature and strong will to implement the changes that America deserved.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  172. Mike D

    It's not the amount of debates, it's the incompetent moderators, like Candy Crowley, who inject themselves into the debate without a clue of the facts and then have take their comment back.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  173. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    We shouldn't have any presidential debates, I'd rather see those in Congress in a town hall debate with questions being asked why they aren't doing their job and let the country decide whether we want them back.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  174. Bob

    One would be enough, provided it was in fact a presidential debate. That means, as in any other actual democracy, all presidential candidates are admitted and participate in the debate – and are not arrested as they approach ( as per Jill Stein ). In such a truly reprentative debate the fall back position of not answering the question, or launching a blizzard of talking points, would be fodder for those candidates not confined by the interests that dictate both Obama and Romney's carfully neutered responses – often neutered of sense.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  175. Rob-Texas

    3 is the right number. Hopefully the next one won't be monderated by a Democrat.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  176. Sam Wilson, Jr.

    They got it right: three debates in three different formats with three different topical areas. The public gets unmediated access to how the candidates speak, think, react, and deal with pressure. Any more would reduce the process to redundant entertainment; any less would leave one with basic questions or incomplete impressions.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  177. Sean in Roseville, California

    I think there should be as many presidential debates as are there are games in the World Series. We need more entertainment! LOL

    October 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  178. Doc

    Two presidential debates.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  179. Mike

    They should be limited to saying what they will do, not what their opponent will do. 3 debates for 2 hours each, should put us all to sleep!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  180. Doc

    Two presidential debates. This way the voters break any ties.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  181. Burbank

    As many as needed but include the other candidates, it's blatant discrimination not to. What about the Libertarian, Green and other 3rd party candidates? I particularly like Gary Johnson, the Libertarian,why wasn't he given a voice?

    October 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  182. jimmie

    None. Radical media on both sides. Even the questions used are open ended and fuzzy or either designed to get a rise out of the candidate hoping they will get a gaffe they can exploit. The real questions never get answered for the voters. Also, they dwell on issues that are small compared to the huge problems we face in just a few months. We need real workers to be the next politicians elected, at their desk every day working long hours and cooperating with each other to solve these tremendous problems of national debt and security. All their vacations and tv interviews canceled until the job is done. Also, pay them by the clock and get rid of all the excess: white house staff, czars, lobbyists, and no contractors to write their bills. Make them all do their own work and be responsible.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  183. Name*jimmy

    If Biden and Obama don't win they can always work for crest or Colgate with their stupid smiles

    October 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  184. Leannis, citizen abroad

    Debates are good, they are instructive, however when no matter the topic of the question the answer is still the same, it becomes tiring and non productive, i will love to see a town hall style debate where reporters ask the questions directly, they know the facts, and whats true or not, I hardly believe the candidates would get away with untrue facts or not answering the question at all.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  185. Hey Jack Cafferty

    I remember during the health care debate when Obama went behind closed doors with union officials and cut republicans out of the discussion, and then ramrodded the health care bill through in an historically partisan way, Jack Cafferty told us all to "not forget" about Obama's broken promise to be transparent and bipartisan when 2012 came.
    Well Jack, I didn't forget.
    Did you?

    October 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  186. Fred Griswold

    It's not the number of debates, it's the quality of the debates. It's all pre-fab because it's all designed by the two campaigns. Where do the voters get into the act? Third-party candidate Jill Stein tried to get in to the debate on Tuesday and she was arrested and handcuffed to a chair for 8 hours. Admission to the debate hall should be first-come, first-served. Sure, there will be the occasional troublemaker, but that's just the price you have to pay for living in a free country. And questioners should be allowed follow-ups. These things ought to be in Federal law.

    Fred Griswold
    San Mateo CA

    October 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  187. Daniel

    I am from North Carolina
    I think debates offer a fact check that otherwise really doesn't exist and challenges each candidates policy which is good for America. It literally forces them to watch what they say deterring them from telling a direct lie. I would think 7 debates would be far better than three so they can vet each idea for each policy. Each debate should focus on one major topic so they can fully describe their view and more importantly their policy on each subject and not get off doing as the described which is talking around it without answering the question. You simply cannot talk around the same point for 90 mins without someone calling you on it. You would have to answer the questions directly.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  188. Chris M

    Unfortunately, the number of debates doesn't matter. The governer will continue to promise bipartisan support by working with congress without mentioning the senate and the president still needs to give use details. People, it's going to take longer to fix a decade of bad policies, we just have to hang in the best we can!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  189. Gigi Oregon

    We have everything we need to elect President Obama, birth certificate, health care, bin laden is dead and our troops are coming home. Let's keep them home. . We don't have enough to elect Mr. Romney No tax returns, No tax returns, No tax returns, NO vote....

    October 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  190. Kyle

    This is really simple. If you think there are too many debates, then don't watch them. If it turns out that people don't watch the debates, then their number will be decreased.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  191. Double Standard

    Obama changes his mind....and "evolves".
    Romney changes his mind....and "flip flops".
    Your bias is showing Jack.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  192. Nipun

    I'm surprised you brought up the point about debates being won on style after Obama's win Jack... Not when Romney won the first debate based on LIES and NO substance but JUST Style... I wonder why!!!

    October 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  193. larry in St.Jo,MO.

    These debates are just inane. Politics in this country has become an excercise in horse-pucky. One wonders if it all is just some kind of "put on" with real issues already long decided behind closed doors somewhere. I simply cannot believe that this absolute stupidity we get from our politicians is a real political system. It's simply not meaningful.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  194. Isabel Del Rossi

    Let's have as many debates as is possible to reveal the real Mitt Romney. In 2010 when the Republicans took over Congress, Senator Mitch McConnel announced that the priority of all Republicans was to make certain that President Obama be a one-term President. President Obama has done his job as President. Republicans in Congress have blocked the following from passing: tax on companies that ship overseas; political ad disclosure; Small Business Jobs Act; the Dream Act; repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Anti-Rape Amendment; benefits for homeless veterans; affordable health care for Americans (repealed 33x); Health Care of 911 responders; Jobs Bill; Wall St. Reform; Oil Spill Liability; Immigration Reform; Unemployment Extension Bill; Fair Pay Act, blocked and defeated. And the Republicans want you to believe that Obama is to blame. If Mitt Romney wins the Presidency, it will be another Bush/Gore election whereby something undemocratic took place.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  195. poundsterling

    I think two is enough

    October 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  196. frankie

    As a former debate coach and speech communications educator, I have to say that watching these last 2 debates showed a very familiar story. On one side, the cocky arrogance of popular pretty boy who thought simply showing up was all he had to do. On the other side, the underdog who showed up ready to fight because nobody would give him a fair shake otherwise.

    The real question isn't how many debates are enough; the real question should be: When will the media present debates rather than preferential treatment to the left? There was a time when journalism was objective. That time needs to return. I'm not interested in what a journalist's personal political affiliation is. I want an objective presentation of all sides.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  197. Brian Wickremasinghe - Woodland Hills

    Two is too many.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm |