The Big Mistake Susan Page Made At The VP Debates

USA Today's Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page should feel pretty good. After all, for the most part, she managed to do with Chris Wallace couldn't do last week, which was to prevent a debate from turning into a barroom brawl. And while the vice presidential debates in Salt Lake City were more civilized than the head butting viewers saw last week at the first presidential debate in Cleveland, critics still still took exception to the way Page managed the speakers in general, and Vice President Mike Pence in particular.

Politico pointed out that Page not only allowed Pence to repeatedly blow past the two minute time limits that needed to be enforced, he also interrupted his rival, Kamala Harris too. A CBS News tally shows that during the whole debate, Pence interrupted Harris ten times, and Harris interrupted five times. The constant interruptions made Harris interject "Mr Vice President, I'm speaking" several times over the course of the 90 minute event. Politico also pointed out that while Page let Pence interject, she would admonish Harris for doing the same. As one Twitter user pointed out, "I have been thinking a lot about the VP debate. I think many people are unaware about the level of misogyny and disrespect to women that is embedded in our society and in many of ourselves. We need to constantly work to excise it in our own life's and in our communities."

Mike Pence also ignored Susan Page at the debate

Vice President Mike Pence didn't just talk over Senator Kamala Harris, he talked over Susan Page, too. "I felt the only thing I could do was interject his time was up," she said. As Page's publication, USA Today, has pointed out, questions are being asked whether Pence would have behaved the same way if the moderator had been a man because, as Page says, "I don't know that I've seen him in that kind of setting with a male moderator."

Still, Page didn't feel it was necessary to cut off Mike Pence's microphone, which agitated debate watchers had repeatedly called on Twitter to have her do. "We set these rules so that the candidates can have a chance to speak. It's not my debate. It's their debate. It's the voters' debate," she said. 

If there is any part of the debate even Page is unhappy about, is with the way her questions were answered. "Everything about a debate tells voters something," she said. "So, with both candidates, and especially with Vice President Pence, they didn't address the question I asked. That is frustrating to me because I spent a lot of time writing those questions. But, that is illuminating in its own way to voters, and that was the point."