(USA Today) -- The second presidential debate is still a day away but the Obama and Romney campaigns are already complaining about the moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley. Not about the content of her questions -- they're just worried she might ask one.
Time's Mark Halperin reports Monday morning the campaigns have contacted the Commission on Presidential Debates to express worry that Crowley's role in the debate will be bigger than that outlined in an agreement between the campaigns.
USA STORY: Crowley undaunted by debate duty
That agreement between Romney and Obama says the debate moderator "will not rephrase the (audience) question or open a new topic ... will not ask followup questions or comment,'' according to Halperin. According to the campaigns, the moderator was to receive a copy of the agreement and the commission is to make its "best effort" to implement it. The commission is the sponsor of all three presidential debates, including the town hall Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., co-chair of the commission, says the commission is not bound by the campaigns' agreement and that Crowley will be able to ask follow-up questions during a two-minute "discussion" period after each candidate has answered the question posed by a member of the audience. "This (agreement) is between the campaigns,'' he said Monday. "We haven't agreed to it and neither has Candy.'' Nor has the commission sent CNN a copy of the campaigns' agreement, called a memorandum of understanding, he said.
The commission contacted Crowley and passed on the campaigns' concerns, Fahrenkopf said. "The campaigns did communicate to us some concerns," he said. "They said, 'is she going outside the framework' of the town hall format?" The rules allow a followup question on the same topic, he said, but not a pivot to a different subject.
CNN declined comment.
In an interview with USA TODAY last week, Crowley said she will call on audience members based on the questions they submit in advance of the debate, and that she will then ask a followup, or "drill-down" question. She also said that if news occurs Tuesday -- after debate questions have been submitted -- she may ask candidates to respond. "Do I feel a journalistic responsibility to fill a hole if there is one? I do.''