POLITICS
01/23/2012 11:47 pm ET

GOP Debate Audience In Florida Asked To Withhold Reactions To Candidate Statements

After six months of presidential debates that have grown increasingly raucus, Monday's presidential debate in Florida had a much more low-key tone.

Following a typical NBC procedure for a debate, moderator Brian Williams asked the audience to hold applause at the start of the 90-minute debate.

The result was a rhythm to the questions and answers that seemed unfamiliar to the candidates and the audience at times, resulting in a few moments of silence when candidates expected applause, but none (or very little came).

Weighing in after the debate, Newt Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said that the restrictions had dampened the tone.

"I don't think it was as interesting. I don't think it was as high energy," he said.

Gingrich has effectively utilized the audience in the past, particularly in the previous two debates, in which he assaulted debate moderators and was rewarded with standing ovations on separate occasions.

Not all of the audience reactions have created positive moments for the candidates, however. Debate audiences have also given cheers to questions about executions in Texas and boos to a question from a gay soldier seeking answers on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," among other incidents.

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