BYRON YORK, October 23, 2012
CINCINNATI – Officials at the final presidential debate, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, repeatedly warned the in-house audience: no cheering, no booing, no catcalls, attaboys, or any other unseemly disturbances of the peace. In the media filing room — nowhere close to the actual debate hall — reporters stayed mostly quiet, too, making little noise beyond tapping on their laptops.
But a thousand miles away in the key swing state of Ohio, there was no Silence Rule when about 175 volunteers and supporters of the Hamilton County Republican Party gathered at a Cincinnati restaurant to watch Monday night’s face-off. When Mitt Romney said something they liked, the crowd cheered. When Barack Obama said something they didn’t like, they booed. They also deployed occasional one-word exclamatory fact-checks that were more effective than anything Candy Crowley attempted in the second debate.
All in all, watching the debate with a lively crowd raised the question of whether all presidential debates must be conducted in deathly silence, or whether a little open partisanship might not be welcome during an event that is, after all, intensely political.