Panel III: Do Debates Change Elections?

George Will, Martha Raddatz, Donna Brazile, Newt Gingrich, Chris Dodd and Richard Norton Smith.
3:00 | 10/14/12

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Transcript for Panel III: Do Debates Change Elections?
We're back now with our all-star panel of experts. Historian richard norton smith, do debates matter? And what are you looking for in the last two final debates? I think we've established they matter. I have enough trouble understanding the past to predict the future. I will suggest one reform. One legacy of 1980, late in the campaign, one week before the campaign, the carter and reagan camps were debating over the debate. It went well for governor reagan. Swept him into office. The decision was made thereafter, whatever we do in the future, we're not going to repeat the mistake. Why do you think we have all four debates shoe-horned into narrow window in october? Why not stretch them out from labor day until a week before the election? And then maybe as senator dodd points out, we would havmore time to reflect on what we have heard. Or too much time to reflect. I don't know. Stretching them all out. Yeah, they matter. But, you know, looking back at those other debates, as we have this morning, I think people have to remember that what you hear is not necessarily going to happen. And there are promises kept or we're going to do this and that, it doesn't really come out to be true. I think tuesday's debate is a very different type of debate. It's the town hall. I think both men will do very well with the audience. It's probably easier for them because you have a live audience, like this one you relate to them in a didn't way than you do just with a moderator or each other. Mr. Will? Certainly, they matter. Newt cites 1984 when the 39 said, I'm not going to take advantage of my opponent's youth. He carried 49 states. That wasn't the key to the landslide. Walter mondale said that was the moment he realized he was going to lose. That was probably the moment. Second, the format will matter. The next debate with the interacting with the audience will be part of the oprah-fication of american politics. Where we elect the national talk show host. I think it's unfortunate that we do this. Everyone will be watching to see how mr. Obama strikes a balance between catatonia and mania. Will he be -- will he be like joe biden and people saying, where is the ritalin? Okay, donna, last thought. First of all, think the democrats have to just stop trying to fact-check the republicans every time they open their mouths and get back to talking to the american people. Tell the country where we're going over the next four years. If mitt romney wants to pivot to a moderate or liberal, have the conversation four years from now. Talk to the american people, they want to habout the future. All right, that's all the time we have. We're going take a break. We'll be back with a final word in a moment. We want to thank our hosts in nashville and the commission on presidential debates. And you're in my way of my script there. If you'll move. How do we, as a people, come together? Let me tell you another story I've never shared before. At first, I thought we had a little something in common. Over the course of working together, year in, year out, talking to each other. job arrests... Chasing bad guys. Now I see my work differently. We analyze crime data, spot patterns, and figure out where to send patrols. It's helped some us cities cut serious crime by up to 30%. By stopping it before it happens. Let's build a smarter planet.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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