The 28 Iowa Republican assembled by pollster Frank Luntz for today’s GOP debate had various opinions about the candidates, but were virtually unanimous in panning the performance of Des Moines Register editor and debate moderator Carolyn Washburn, calling her “boring,” “antagonistic,” and “like paint drying.”
In the debate, Washburn frequently cut off exchanges between the candidates, and at one point sparked a mini-rebellion when she asked for a show of hands on the issue of climate change. When former Senator Fred Thompson said he preferred a minute to explain his position, Washburn told him no.
During live coverage on the Fox News Channel a few minutes after the debate ended at 3:30 ET, Luntz turned to his focus group: “How many of you thought that this was a good moderator? Raise your hands.” As most of the group either laughed or groaned loudly, one man in a blue sweater raised his hand about half way. “She asked good questions,” he mildly suggested.
“How many of you thought the moderator needed help?” Luntz then asked. Nearly every hand shot up. “Just for the heck of it, one word or phrase to describe the moderator,” he asked the group. Those in the front row offered their answers in turn:
“Like paint drying.”
“So even though they picked up information, they did not like this — let’s hope the moderator herself doesn’t run for office,” Luntz quipped. Several minutes later, he showed how the focus group reacted to the moment when Thompson and Washburn clashed — the voters enthusiastically sided with Thompson against the moderator.