Presidential Debate Transcript

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BROWN: Thank you, gentlemen. Ladies and gentlemen, would you join me in welcoming Mrs. Romney and Mrs. Obama?

(APPLAUSE)

One of the great privileges of working for the Commission on Presidential Debates is to work with Jim Lehrer. This is the 12th time that he will moderate a debate. I would like to introduce him now.

(APPLAUSE)

LEHRER: Let me be the very last to welcome you to this very important event, this presidential debate. Show of hands, how many of you all have been in the hall for one of these fall presidential -- vice presidential debates before?

OK, so you all know the rules: absolute silence. Those of you who have been in or watched on television the primary debates know that is not the case. The rules are different here for these events. In the early days, when I first started addressing the audience in the hall, I threatened people. I mean, I'd say, OK, you make noise, you hiss and boo or -- or even applaud, cheer, I'll turn around and I'll stop and I'll make you stand up and humiliate you in front of the whole world.

(LAUGHTER)

I don't do that anymore, because I don't need to, because everybody knows the drill. Certainly all of you do. You've come here for a very important reason. Most of you are here as committed supporters of President Obama or Governor Romney or others involved in this electoral process, and you know how important this event is.

And it's important because it's about those millions and millions of people who are going to watch this event tonight. They're -- they're watching to make a decision, one of the most important decisions a citizen of this country makes, and so it's -- it behooves all of you and me, us, in other words, to help the dialogue. And you can help me by remaining quiet, as well.

I -- this has -- we've got a new kind of complicated format here tonight. And I've got to be -- I've got to be really concentrating. I want to be concentrating on what the candidates are saying, along with you, rather than what's going on behind me. And -- and I know you're going to do that. And I don't have any fear that you all will.

And, I mean, if you hear something that's really terrific, sit on it. If you hear something you don't like, sit on it. And -- and it'll -- it'll work.

And as I say, I have no -- no fear that anybody's going to do anything, but as a precaution, I'm going to ask Mrs. Obama on this side and Mrs. Romney on this side to enforce the rules on your side...

(LAUGHTER)

... and your side. Take names. I'll humiliate them. I'll do anything, whatever. But, anyhow.

The drill here is what you see in a few moments, we're going to start. I'm going to sit down. My back's going to be to you, and we'll introduce -- I'm going to do an opening through this -- TelePrompTer's right there. And I'm going to do an opening, welcome, everybody, to the event. And then President Obama is going to come in from the right, Governor Romney from the left. They'll shake hands. They'll go behind the podium. And we'll be on the way.

And between now and then, you can feel free to talk and do whatever -- any noise you would like to make. But once I sit down and I'll turn around and say, OK, shh, or words of that effect, please. And -- and when they do come in -- there is one exception -- when they do come in, you can applaud. I'm going to applaud. I'm going to stay seated and applaud. You can applaud then and at the very end. At the very end, I'm going to look at that prompter again and I'm going to say good night to everybody, and then we can all applaud then, as well.

LEHRER: But in between, 90 minutes of wonderful, serious, delightful silence. OK, let's have a good time.

(APPLAUSE)

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