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Bob Schieffer, Candy Crowley, Jim Lehrer to moderate presidential debates

1:30 PM, Aug 13, 2012   |    comments
Jim Lehrer (left) and Bob Schieffer
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(CBS NEWS) -- The Commission on Presidential Debates have announced the moderators for the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate set to take place in October. Among them is the first female presidential debate moderator in two decades.

CNN's Candy Crowley is set to moderate a town hall-style debate on October 16, the second scheduled debate. The last woman to host a presidential debate was ABC News' Carole Simpson, who moderated the 1992 debate between President George H.W. Bush and candidates Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Three teenagers from New Jersey had pressed for the Commission on Presidential Debates to choose a woman moderator for one of the presidential debates.

Moderating the third presidential debate will be CBS News' Bob Schieffer, who moderated a 2008 presidential debate between President Obama and John McCain. Schieffer, who also moderated a 2004 debate, will lead the October 22 debate in Boca Raton. The first debate, on October 3 in Denver, will be moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS, who has moderated 11 of the past 35 presidential debates. The vice presidential debate will be moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News.

"These journalists bring extensive experience to the job of moderating, and understand the importance of using the expanded time periods to maximum benefit," said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry, co-chairmen of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The first presidential debate will focus on domestic policy. The second will be a town meeting-style debate, with undecided voters posing questions. The third will focus on foreign policy.

Alan Schroeder, professor at Northeastern University and author of "Presidential Debates: 50 Years of High Risk TV," noted that Lehrer has moderated more presidential debates than anyone.

"There's a comfort level with him on the part of the debate commission but also the candidates, I would assume," he said. "He's been through this so many times."

He said the debate that Schieffer moderated in 2008 was the best of that year.

"His moderating of that final Obama/McCain debate was really a model for how this is supposed to be done," Schroeder said. "And Schieffer is particularly good in that kind of sit down, have-a-conversation format, which was the format of that debate."

Both Schieffer and Lehrer, he said, "understand the debate is not about them. You need people who understand you have to let the candidates have all the focus."

Raddatz, he said, was a surprise pick, "only because she's been reporting more Pentagon, more international affairs and has not been as active on the domestic news front - and this vice presidential debate will deal with both international and domestic topics." But he called her "a very solid reporter with an excellent reputation in the business."

Crowley, Schroeder noted, will have to deal with the added challenge of a town hall-style debate.

"In a town hall debate you're concerned about the candidates and time and content, but you're also concerned with a rather complicated process of getting the people in the audience asking the questions," he said. "But she has tons of experience in live TV and the interview format and all that so I'm not concerned that she wouldn't be able to handle it or anything."

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