Caption the Cartoon: What the Ref Said

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Most agree that political debates could use a little more discipline — at least a good whistle. So we’ve imagined the addition of some professional help, and asked for your help suggesting the ref’s new rules.

The winner is Gail Hunn. See the winning caption above, and check out all the winning captions and cartoons in the official Caption the Cartoon Winners’ Gallery.

Cartoon by Norman Dapito.

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  • Steve Pesce

    “No using drones, just droning on!”

  • Gail Hunn

    If your nose grows past this line, you will be disqualified.

  • jonakron

    “No speaking below the neck ”

  • Fred Wilder

    “Shake hands and come out fighting”

  • chris

    This debate will be graded on style. Anyone caught saying anything of substance will be sent back to their podium.

  • Democat

    No lying, no position changes, no making stuff up, no out-of-context comments, no phoney quotes and statistics, and no talking points. So, if you dare, Mr. Romney, you may begin, but I’ll warn you now, what’s left over is probably from Mr. Obama’s platform and is also disqualified. I’ll be in the lounge if you need me.

  • Bill Meyer

    Can we have hocky ref’s? I’d like to see them get sent to the box! “Five minute major for “Blowing smoke up my @##!”

  • Len0216

    “Heads the corporations win, tails the people lose.”

  • Jeff Siegel

    15 yards. Illegal use of funds to the race.

  • tracu

    anyone caught lying or speaking in platitutes will be disqualified

  • Jeff Siegel

    Republicans. Bill pass interference. Automatic first down from the spot of the foul.

  • wiscmom

    Knock it off! I’m a pro sent by the American people. Just answer the questions! I’ll call it as I see it.

  • Jeff Siegel

    Ruling on the field is incomplete. Republican nominee didn’t not maintain possession of the facts throughout the argument.

  • Diana

    No smiling, no rolling eyes, no drinking water, no interrupting, no zingers, no fun! Just get down to the business of telling the American people what you will “really” stand for as President.

  • Zora Paladin

    Trust a County Council substitute ref can easily call all your rules violations.

  • kathy folk

    “Wake up, Jim!

  • Michael Meltzer

    One more joke and you’re outta here!

  • Jeff Sponberg

    Who’s gonna flip Mitt to see who goes first.

  • Guest

    Onne more bad joke and you’re outta here!

  • plainfolk

    “For the last time gentlemen, I am NOT a swing voter.”

  • Colin

    No replacing refs. No firing the moderator. May the highest bidder win.

  • theda

    Sorry Mr Romney – only one version of a candidate allowed on the field at a given time.

  • Mira Karell

    Flagrant false statement!

  • Melanie

    Eye rolling, 15 second penalty. Interrupting the speaker, backhand slap.

  • DaveH

    “Personal Foul! … argumentative!”

  • PadgettFromMarshall

    After further review – we have no clue about what is true !!!

  • RichardNYC78

    OBAMA: Say, Mitt, isn’t that what’s his name,
    the CEO of Goldman Sachs?
    ROMNEY: My new Treasury Secretary, shhhh.
    OBAMA: I’ll bet you my revolving door he’ll
    be mine by November.
    REF: Well, one of you will be following my orders;
    call it; “Heads or Tails”….

  • Erik

    Red card! Aw, shucks, this ain’t soccer.

  • Gail Larrick

    Reds, penalties for illegal forward motion and unnecessary roughness. That puts you WAY back on the field. Blues, first down, and now it’s your ball.

  • Dan McGibbon

    “Foul! Your last statement is under review by our ‘FactCheckers’ Instant Replay.

  • barbsbarb

    Instant replay shows no debaters on the field! Game called due to lack of substance.

  • Margaret Dennison

    Mitt!! Stop flipping the coin!!!!

  • Daniel Carroll

    ”’ keep it clean’

  • Brenda Blackwelder

    Romney: “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies!”…Moderator: “Don your boxing gloves, the audience wants to see blood!”…President Obama: Seriously, I’m supposed to take this guy SERIOUSLY?”

  • Michael Swanson

    Malarky! ten talking points penalty!

  • Clark Orwick

    “Obama, fifteen minute penalty for murdering innocent human beings with coward-drones.”
    “Romney, fifteen minute penalty for being a filthy-rich, fascist warmonger.”
    Penalties cancel out, game called for lack of integrity on either side.

  • Kira

    This time…try telling the truth!

  • Jeff

    You may only speak out of ONE side of your mouth, and only answer direct questions from moderator.

  • Margaret Dennison

    Mitt!! Quit tossing the coin!!!!

  • Casey

    “Personal foul…15 yards for roughing up the truth!”

  • Katherine Kominis

    Three personal fouls ( fact checking calling the shots) and your opponent gets 15 extra minutes!

  • Scott Stoddard

    “No gentlemen,I am not Ted Turner.”

  • Ben Lyons

    “Public Matter here calling todays game. I don’t believe this. The Ref just blew the green whistle, wait, They’re using the commercial break to give each players team a chance to draw lines on their checks.. And It’s 2 For The Price Of One! This one is LONG GONE!”

  • Tom

    And remember .. no mentioning of the poor or the war.

  • Baview

    Time Out!! Big Bird is coming in to substitute for one of you. Would either of you volunteer to give the Bird your time and place?

  • JonThomas

    Ok boys, here we go…remember, just like we worked out in the back room…got it?!

  • Jeff Sponberg

    Mr president, governor…no smiling, interrupting or comparing tax returns.

  • Jo-Ena Bennett

    You gotta accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between!

  • David Booker

    I know I’m only a replacement moderator, but for a fleeting moment, I saw the truth. It was right here. Then it vanished. Remember, we’ll have no more of that. Too much truth and we’ll be done in thirty minutes and I’ll have to hustle up state and local races to keep from being unemployed.

  • Kirk Jorn

    resolute and wrong still leaves you wrong!

  • James Hayes-Bohanan

    Introduction of real ideas in a forum meant only for grandstanding. Five yard penalty and loss of down.

  • Guzzo

    I am NOT Terry Bradshaw!

  • Guzzo

    No foul. Offsetting penalties.

  • Serg H.

    Let’s get it on!

  • Gene Smith

    A lot of mud slinging? I thought you were talking about girls in wet tee shirts. I’m outa here.

  • Guzzo

    Before I blow this whistle, keep in mind that I need a job after this debate.

  • T J W

    Now remember, there will be no bending, twisting, stretching, or spinning of the truth! …just kidding, guys! Oh, you should have seen your faces! That was funny!

  • danmar5

    “Unsportsmanlike conduct on the OFFENSIVE line”

  • Linda

    On your truth, get ready, get set and be honest with the American people.

  • Douglas Keachie

    Rock, scissors, stock certificate!

  • Chuck Miley

    No, Mr. Romney, it is not your coin and you didn’t make it, back to your positon…. which positon? Pick one!

  • kdolan

    I’m a non-union Ref..Romney Wins

  • Scaredmittless

    Now, shake hands and come out lying!

  • Larry W. Gilbert

    “Alright you guys, the first one who tells a LIE, is OUTTA HERE !”

  • Ben Zoltak

    Either of you goes under suspicion you will be held in indefinite detention without trial!!!!

  • Whatsoeverthingsaretrue!

    Unnecessary bullying of the moderator, Mr. Romney! 15 minute penalty and loss of a turn!

  • Carole Anton

    No online Vegas bets, no Bain money, and off shore accounts are not allowed.

  • Nikki

    For this Nation’s protection..We have provided a Neon Forehead Sign that will light up while Lying.

  • Anonymous

    I do not have a caption to suggest, but I do suggest the following: 1) hire a high school debating coach to moderate. Do not use professional journalists who have already failed us in profound ways. Martha and Jim are not home run hitters. 2) Present the questions to the debaters before the debate and have them submit the answers in writing. At the start of the debate, read the answers as well as give the written answers to the audience, moderator and debaters. Then let the debate begin.

  • Alan C Scotch

    … and remember the UNDECIDED only care about how you say it — not what you say….

  • Gary Lasseter

    “I want you to obey the rules, and remember I am a UNION Ref, not a scab, so I KNOW the rules.”

  • plainfolk

    I’ve been informed by the Commission on Presidential Debates that per the negotiated contract, I am legally obliged to chop the head off of any 3rd party candidates. Like this… (Whooosh)

  • Dave

    Psychic Adviser fee – 6 cents.

  • DaveJ

    It may be illegal, but I’ll allow it!

  • Susan Ghoston

    Spewing lies, personal foul. Lose 4 minutes. Interrupting the host or the speaker,personal foul, loss of turn. Caught cheating, automatic ejection from the stage! Caption Obama “that seems fair” Romney,”this game is fixed”

  • Anonymous

    First of you pandering mugs to misrepresent the facts gets to be Sandusky’s cell block bride for a weekend.

  • Rachel Dangermond

    No team is allowed to mention race.

  • Sherry Meyer

    Ref needs to review if the fumble really did occur!

  • TCavanagh

    A red card to both of you.

  • MarWaite

    No quoting of “facts” that the Fact Checkers have already disavowed.

  • MarWaite

    No positions without supporting details allowed.

  • MarWaite

    Let’s pause for a Fact Check on that position.

  • Gordon Driscoll

    Loving the support I see for Our President…I need that, for reassurance.

  • David E. Williams

    Lets get ready to mumble!

  • Pat S

    Ref: The question was ‘how electing you will benefit the middle class’. Foul on Mr. Romney, middle class is not those earning between $500K and $1million a year.

  • Pat B.

    I know I don’t belong here. But if we make it a sport people will watch.

  • bloodbeach

    Todays ref has been brought to you by Goldman-Sachs, official sponsor of the 2012 Presidential Debates.

  • Debbie Waffer

    No double down deception…the line is drawn here!

  • Aaron

    “Now I want you two illuminati brothers to go out there an give the people a clean fight, no low blows Mitt, keep ya chin up Barak, and you damn media pundents keep out the ring until its over”

  • Guy Bocchino

    “Answer the question!”
    “Answer the question!”
    “Answer the question!”
    “Answer the question!”

  • Monique

    Do like Bill O’Reilly does when he doesn’t like what someone says, “cut the mike!”

  • Karen Van Blarcum

    Foul – did not answer the question. Must remain silent for the next two minutes.

  • Mike

    Hey Mitt, can I borrow your “binders”?

  • Patricia Berg

    Foul ball!

  • Barbara Mullin

    If you lie or misinform, 1,000 votes will be subtracted from your total on Election Day.

  • aquanut

    there will never be another Tim Russett!! That’s who we need now!

  • Cmynameis

    OK, that’s it!! I am outta here! You two bozos just look straight at the American people, and talk this through, until we unlock the door and let you out!

  • David F., N.A.

    I see Corporate America is well represented here, but where in the world is Stein, Anderson and Johnson? Okay, since they’ve been detained, I guess we’ll have to work with what we’ve got.

    Mr. President and Governor, I want you to obey my commands at all time. That means: Mr. President, leave that ring-girl alone and get back over here right now; and, Governor, your money is no good here, so put it away…

    Keep your punches above the belt–no, Mr. President, your belt is way too high, now lower it…

    And remember to protect yourselves at all time–Governor, your 5-point-rope-a-dope plan is okay as a defense, but if I catch you using anything that resembles a specific, I’ll start taking away points.

    Okay, let’s have a clean debate. Now touch ’em up and come out lying.

  • Carolynn Young

    “Say the secret word and you win the presidency.”

  • Katie Givens

    Okay. I have only one rule. Don’t kill Big Bird.

  • fre.bostic

    Ready, Set, Run to the border , and let third party take the STAND for Middl- becoming-poor- class .


    Congratulations, Gail, you won! See your winning caption above. Everyone else, here’s the newest cartoon: