There are the public rules for each presidential debate -- how long the candidates get for each answer, how long they get to respond -- and then there are the secret rules their campaigns agreed to in a memorandum of understanding with the Commission on Presidential Debates. That memorandum is now public, posted by Time's Mark Halperin. What did the Obama and Romney campaigns demand?
No reaction shots. "To the best of the Commission's abilities, there will be no TV cut-aways to any candidate who is not responding to a question while another candidate is answering a question or to a candidate who is not giving a closing statement while another candidate is doing so." TV guys, you so broke this rule.
The town hall will be strictly regulated. In the town hall debate Tuesday, Candy Crowley "shall select the questioners, but she may not 'coach' the questioners." Questioners cannot ad lib their questions. Crowley cannot ask follow-ups. If a questioner tries to as a follow-up, they will cut off his microphone.
No show of hands. This could be because Obama keeps attacking Romney for raising his hand at a Republican primary debate when the candidates were asked whether they'd take a deal that was 10 parts spending cuts to 1 part tax increases. Or it's just because those questions are inexact and frustrating.