3) Have the candidates question each other. This has been tried on occasion in various races for other offices, but never consistently in presidential debates.
4) Put a former president on the panel. Since these men have had the rare experience of being president and know the challenges and unexpected events that often arise during a presidency, have Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton question Romney and Obama (Dick Cheney, Walter Mondale, or Dan Quayle might question Ryan and Biden).
5) Put a "loser" on the panel. Let Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum ask questions. Losers in previous Democratic primaries might be selected, too. Hillary Clinton would be fun.
As for questions a moderator never asks, he (or she) might try these: What should government do less and we the people do more? What do you see as the constitutional limitations of government?
The tired "debate" format devised in 1960 for the televised Nixon-Kennedy meeting and made worse in the '70s needs serious updating. Everything else has advanced. So should these political face-offs.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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