As the candidates get ready to debate a number of issues, including foreign affairs at Lynn University on Oct. 22, this year's presidential debates are already turning into some of the most important in recent history.
“While presidential debates are a rather recent invention, they used to feature a moderator and a panel of reporters who asked the questions,” said Robert Watson, professor of American Studies in Lynn University's College of Liberal Education. “The Commission on Presidential Debates [CPD] has tended to favor a single moderator format since being first used in 1992, and this continues to make the moderator's role all the more important.”
The CPD recently named Bob Schieffer, CBS News' chief Washington correspondent, the moderator of the third and final presidential debate to be held in Lynn's Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center. Schieffer, who has served as moderator for past presidential debates, is the anchor and moderator of “Face The Nation”, CBS News' Sunday public affairs broadcast show.
Watson's seven keys to being a good moderator:
- Don't let anyone know how you voted in previous years or how you intend to vote this year.
- Have extensive media experience and a good command of the policy and political issues.
- Have the kind of gravitas necessary for such an important event.
- Demand that the candidates actually answer the question and not simply stick with their scripted “talking points.”
- Keep the questions secret…not sharing them with anyone so that the debate is not compromised.
- Encourage a conversational tone and ensure a logical “flow” to the line of questioning and discussion.
- Be a good referee by maintaining order and enforcing the rules.
“One of the most important factors that make up a good moderator is the ability to pull out the information that voters are looking for from both candidates. Plus, a moderator must have extensive knowledge on a wide range of relevant political issues throughout the debate,” said Watson.