CNN anchor first woman to moderate presidential debate in 20 years

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- CNN anchor Candy Crowley has been chosen to moderate a presidential debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney, making her the first woman in two decades to be chosen for the prestigious role.

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday that Crowley will moderate the second presidential debate which will take place on October 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. It is the only presidential debate to take the form of a town hall meeting, allowing citizens to directly ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues.

“As someone who is in awe and grateful every day to be in a country where freedom of the press, free speech and free elections are a way of life, I am wowed, amazed and excited by the opportunity to moderate a 2012 presidential debate," Crowley said. "Congratulations are in order as well to Martha, Jim and Bob. I am so proud to be in their company."

The last woman to moderate a presidential debate was ABC's Carole Simpson in 1992. After learning two decades passed without a woman moderating a U.S. presidential debate, three teenagers from New Jersey launched an online petition at Change.org for the Commission on Presidential Debates to select a female moderator.

The commission did not mention the gender milestone in its announcement, but the online petition drew more than 180,000 signatures and support from a number of politicians, including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

"What a huge victory for women, for equal representation, and for the more than 180,000 people who stood with us and demanded a female presidential debate moderator," said Sammi Siegel, one of the high school students who launched the online petition. "We are thrilled that the Commission on Presidential Debates is ending their 20-year drought on women moderators. It is long past due to have a woman on the same stage as the men running for president."

The commission also named ABC News Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz to host the vice presidential debate on October 11 at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. The debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each.

Two men, PBS NewsHour Executive Editor Jim Lehrer and CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer, will moderate the first and third presidential debates. The first debate is scheduled to be held on October 3 at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. The third and final debate will take place on October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

"The new formats chosen for this year's debates are designed to focus big time blocks on major domestic and foreign topics," said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry, co-chairmen of the commission. "These journalists bring extensive experience to the job of moderating, and understand the importance of using the expanded time periods to maximum benefit. We are grateful for their willingness to moderate, and confident that the public will learn more about the candidates and the issues as a result."

The U.S. presidential election is scheduled to be held on November 6.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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