ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS (CNN)– The attention spans of the two competing presidential campaign organizations being what they are, all political thought now is being given to tomorrow night's debate in Hempstead, New York.
Last week's town hall debate in Nashville, Tennessee, already seems like it took place a thousand years ago, and has been all but forgotten.
It shouldn't be.
Because Americans with whom we have been speaking on our way across the country have a surprisingly strong and continuing reaction to what they saw at the Nashville debate. And what they saw, they tell us - what they saw and were offended by - was this:
The rudeness by Barack Obama and John McCain toward the citizens who had been selected to ask questions of the two men - citizens who, perhaps foolishly, trusted that the candidates would play by the rules they had agreed to.
"I thought both McCain and Obama were arrogant," said Jennifer Eaton, 43, of Cleveland, Ohio. "I was frustrated for the men and women who had been told that they would be allowed to ask the candidates questions - and then had to sit there and eventually go home without asking, because the candidates kept breaking the rules by talking and talking and talking."
The rules in Nashville - agreed to in advance by both campaigns - called for brief (two-minute) answers, and very brief (one-minute) follow-up comments, to the questions asked by the citizens. This would allow as many of the men and women as possible to present their questions to the two men, one of whom will be the next president.