This is a victory for three New Jersey high school students who launched a petition drive calling for a woman to moderate a presidential debate. It’s the first time this has happened since ABC’s Carole Simpson posed questions to former President George H.W. Bush, and his challengers Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in 1992. But Crowley will have a limited role in the way her session goes. It will be conducted as a town hall where vetted audience members ask most of the questions. The Commission On Presidential Debates unveiled its plan this morning. Each meeting will run from 9:00-10:30 PM ET. There’ll be no opening statements by the candidates, but each can make a two-minute closing statement. There are some tweaks from previous debates that “are designed to focus big time blocks on major domestic and foreign topics,” CPD co-chairmen Frank Fahrenkopf and Michael McCurry said. The group will also lead an Internet project designed to help voters understand the issues, and recommend topics to the moderators. Here’s the run-down:
October 3: PBS NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer will handle the first meeting between President Obama and Mitt Romney at the University of Denver. It will focus on domestic policy. There’ll be six segments running 15 minutes apiece on topics that Lehrer will pick, and announce several weeks beforehand. Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the question, and Lehrer will use the rest of the time to lead a discussion.
October 11: ABC News Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz takes the VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan at Kentucky’s Centre College. It will cover foreign and domestic affairs with nine, 10-minute segments. Format will be similar to the first presidential debate: Raddatz will ask a question, each candidate has two minutes to respond, and then she will engage them in a discussion.
October 16: CNN’s Candy Crowley will handle a second presidential debate, arranged as a town meeting, at Hofstra University on Long Island. Audience members asking questions will be undecided voters picked by the Gallup Organization. Each candidate has two minutes to respond, and Crowley will have an additional minute to lead a discussion.
October 22: CBS’ Bob Schieffer moderates the third presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. This will be run like the first one, but will center on foreign policy.