Lester Holt from NBC News is the moderator for the first presidential debate scheduled for next Monday at 9 pm EDT from Hofstra University in New York. Earlier this week the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the three broad topic areas for the first debates:
· America’s Direction · Achieving Prosperity · Securing America
The topics are designed as broad questions that will allow the debate to range from terrorism to race relations; from wage equality to free trade; from immigration to Syrian refugees. The debate is divided into six 15-minute time segments with each of the three major topic areas taking up two of the six-time slots. The debate will run a total of 90 minutes. Unlike the primary debates, there will be no commercial interruptions.
Trump says Holt will be fair
The Trump campaign seems comfortable with the choice of Mr. Holt as moderator.
I think Lester Holt will be very fair, but a lot of people will be watching to see if that’s true. — Donald Trump
Meanwhile, the Clinton camp was sending messages to Mr. Holt not to go easy on Trump during the debate. Clinton Communications Director Jen Palmieri said she is worried that a “low bar” is being set for Mr. Trump.
My biggest concern is what kind of standards he is held to. We are preparing for the different Trumps that might show up. — Jen Palmieri
Clinton camp felt Matt Lauer was unfair to Hillary
The Clinton campaign was upset after what they felt were some unfair questions from NBC’s Today Show anchor Matt Lauer in the "Commander-in-Chief Forum" held on September 7. Lauer was criticized for not asking enough tough follow-up questions to Mr. Trump and spending too much time on Mrs. Clinton’s email problem.
Clinton got tougher questions, but also got visibly irritated and defensive. Trump got mostly softballs. But he rode over them. — Maggie Haberman, New York Times
Both sides will be doing their utmost to influence Mr. Holt’s demeanor during the debate. The challenge for any debate moderator is to ensure that the forum belongs to the candidates, not to the moderator. The best compliment to Mr. Holt’s handling of the debate will be if he’s not part of the story.
Most watched debate in history
The debate questions are only a guideline, and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will range far afield when asked questions. Each will be allowed to respond to the other’s statements with their own “clarification” and having two such powerful egos on the stage is certain to challenge Mr. Holt’s ability to keep things focused.
The first presidential debate is widely expected to be the most-watched debate in history with the audience projected to be near 100 million viewers. It seems certain to be a fascinating evening.