NEW YORK--The 31-page "Memorandum of Understanding" governing the three presidential and single vice presidential debates--the final one Wednesday night at Hofstra University-- was signed off by the Obama and McCain campaigns--but not the journalists who are the moderators.
The deal--designed to limit interactions and surprises--seemed to unravel at the second presidential debate last week at Belmont University in Nashville, moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw. Sarah Palin mocked the format when she said at the vice presidential debate she did not intended to answer questions posed by moderator Gwen Ifill of PBS. And Jim Lehrer, also of PBS, could not get John McCain and Barack Obama to interact with each other.
The Hofstra debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS, with the focus on domestic and economic policy. There will be nine nine minute segments with two minute answers with an open discussion period of five minutes.
Among the rules in the McCain-Obama debate pact:
"No props, notes charts diagrams or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by the candidate."
"No candidate may reference or cite any specific individual sitting in a debate audience (other than a family member) at any time during a debate."
"Each candidate for President shall be addressed by the moderator as Senator."
"At no time during these debates shall either candidate move from their designated area behind their respective podiums."