Herding cats? Easier than keeping the candidates on topic

Rules? What debate rules?

Both candidates at Wednesday night’s presidential debate came out of the gate ignoring directions from moderator Jim Lehrer. Asked to “respond directly to what the governor just said about trickle-down” government spending, President Obama instead said he would “talk specifically about what I think we need to do” -- and spoke at some length about his education and energy policies. Trickle down? Never mind.

When Obama finished, Lehrer turned to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. “Gov. Romney,” Lehrer said, “do you have a question that you’d like to ask the president directly about something he just said?”

PHOTOS: Scenes from the first presidential debate

“Well, sure,” Romney said. “I’d like to clear up the record and go through it piece by piece.” Which he did, pointedly failing to ask the president a question.

As the two went on, ignoring time limits that divided the debate into 15-minute thematic segments, Lehrer expressed some frustration.

“We're way over our first 15 minutes,” he said.

“That's fun, isn't it?” Romney said.

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