Let me state right up front that I don't think this news changes anything about the presidential debate we saw two days ago. President Obama did terribly at the debate because he did terribly at the debate. Romney did not outsmart, outwit, or out-debate President Obama. But it would say something about Mitt Romney if this little conspiracy theory were true. A poster named cleduc at Democratic Underground claims that Mitt Romney surreptitiously reached into his pocket and produced a cheat sheet at the beginning of the debate on Wednesday. Other DU users say they can clearly see Romney pick up the cheat sheet at the very end of the debate. Here's a series of photos of Romney producing the white square that some are calling a handkerchief but that many DU users swear is a cheat sheet.
Thing is, I can't seem to find anything saying Romney couldn't bring out notes at the debate. Folks have found a "memorandum of understanding" from the 2004 debates (PDF) announcing that "no props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debates by any candidate." But a 2012 memorandum of understanding has yet to materialize.
And again, none of this really matters. People always seem to spend a lot of time trying to prove the other side cheated after these debates. (Remember W's weird bulge during that first debate with Kerry?) Even if Romney did have a cheat sheet, that certainly wouldn't account for President Obama's poor showing. We can't wish that first debate away, the way Republicans try to shake off the idea of bad polls by saying that the numbers are skewed. But it sure would be interesting to see Romney's response if a reporter managed to ask him a question about this whole cheat sheet thing.