Not only was last night a big night for President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, it was a huge night for Twitter – and Big Bird. According to Twitter’s blog, a record 10 million tweets were posted, making the first of the 2012 presidential debates the most-tweeted about event ever in U.S. politics. Some moments that sparked lively discussion were moderator Jim Lehrer quipping “Let’s not” when Romney requested a topic, Obama, saying “I had 5 seconds” when Lehrer reminds him of the time limit and the discussion about Medicare and vouchers. But the big Twitter winner was Big Bird who generated more than a quarter million tweets after Romney’s statement that he wants to cut federal funding for PBS, home of the Muppet characters, despite his fondness for the tall yellow bird. A chart tracking the night’s Tweets is below.
UPDATE, 12:45 PM: You don’t need to be bilingual to translate the Commission On Presidential Debates’ response to Univision CEO Randy Falco’s letter asking for an additional session targeting Hispanic voters: Don’t be a sore loser. Although “there are many organizations and individuals who wish they had been included in our moderator selection,” the CPD says, “it is impossible to accommodate all of them.” The organization adds that the four moderators it picked “see their assignment as representing all Americans.” And the debates “have always focused on issues of national interest that affect all citizens, including Univision’s audience.” The CPD says that it has met with Univision to consider “joint efforts to get the largest number of people possible engaged in discussing and learning from the debates, and (we) remain interested in working with you toward that goal.”
This is a victory for three New Jersey high school students who launched a petition drive calling for a woman to moderate a presidential debate. It’s the first time this has happened since ABC’s Carole Simpson posed questions to former President George H.W. Bush, and his challengers Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992. But Crowley will have a limited role in the way her session goes. It will be conducted as a town hall where vetted audience members ask most of the questions. The Commission On Presidential Debates unveiled its plan this morning. Each meeting will run from 9:00-10:30 PM ET. There’ll be no opening statements by the candidates, but each can make a two-minute closing statement. There are some tweaks from previous debates that “are designed to focus big time blocks on major domestic and foreign topics,” CPD co-chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf and Michael McCurry said. The group will also lead an Internet project designed to help voters understand the issues, and recommend topics to the moderators. Here’s the run-down: