Noted: Obama Got More Speaking Time at Every Presidential Debate

Now that all three presidential debates are history, did using only liberal moderators have any impact on the amount of time Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Milt Romney had to make their case for occupying the White House next January?

The answer to that question is a definite "Yes," since President Obama got a total of 8 minutes and 8 seconds more time than his Republican opponent during the debates.


That might not sound like much, but every second counts during these few nationally televised events, according to Caroline May, a political reporter for the Daily Caller website.

And that didn't include the number of times the candidates interrupted each other during his opponent's speaking time.

Looking back at the debates, National Review Online reporter Katrina Trinko called this year's time disparity a "bizarre coincidence" before stating:

If you want to get your message out in debates, it's good to be a Democrat.

During the first debate on Wednesday, October 3, liberal host and former "PBS NewsHour" anchor Jim Lehrer set the standard by allowing the incumbent to speak for 42 minutes and 50 seconds, while Republican candidate Romney was allowed 38 minutes and 32 seconds, according to the CNN debate clock.

Despite his liberal philosophy, Lehrer was criticized by MSNBC contributor Howard Fineman as "practically useless as the moderator" since Romney came away from the debate with a big boost in popularity and the polls.

That led Obama to be more aggressive during their second encounter at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, on Wednesday, October 17, which was moderated by the very liberal Candy Crowley. Obama spoke for 44 minutes and 4 seconds, while Romney only spoke for 40 minutes and 50 seconds.

And this occurred despite Cawley's promise during the debate: "We are quite aware of the clock, for both of you."

Just minutes after the second confrontation, which many observers called a draw, ABC pundits Matthew Dowd and Donna Brazile brushed off the three-plus-minute advantage of speaking time Obama had over Romney.

Dowd asserted that this imbalance would lead to "conservatives and Republicans attacking Candy Crowley, and when that happens, that is a sure sign that President Obama won this."

The final debate, hosted at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, on Monday night and moderated by long-time CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, had the thinnest time difference. Obama spoke for 41 minutes and 42 seconds, while Romney talked for 41 minutes and 7 seconds, even though the president interrupted his GOP counterpart several times.

And lest you think that the media bias in these debates had no effect on the Thursday, October 11, vice presidential encounter at Centre College in Kentucky, the National Review reported that the Democratic incumbent spoke for 1 minute and 22 seconds longer than his GOP counterpart Paul Ryan.

Judging by Joe Biden's behavior, he may have used Ryan's speaking time to get another whiff of the laughing gas he obviously had in copious amounts while the GOP candidate looked and spoke like a serious candidate for the second-highest political office in the country.

Another lesson we hopefully learned from this year's lopsided debate moderation is the need for someone more conservative than the moderators this time to host as at least one of the presidential confrontations. And finding moderators who are more conservative than this year's crop should be extremely easy.

I've always thought Brit Hume was an outstanding journalist at ABC News and later Fox News Channel, and perhaps he could coax the Democratic candidate to produce his or her vision for the future sometime sooner than two weeks from Election Day.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall