Washington: For the first time in two decades, a woman journalist will moderate one of the three US Presidential debates scheduled in October this year, the Commission on Presidential Debates has announced.
Candy Crowley, the chief political correspondent of CNN and Anchor of its State of the Union programme will moderate the presidential debate on October 16 at Hofstra University, Hempstead in New York, the announcement said.
Incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney will appear for three face to face 90-minute debates in October ahead of the November Presidential elections.
The other two debates on October 3 and October 22 will be respectively moderated by Jim Lehrer of the PBS News Hour and Bob Schieffer of the CBS News.
Martha Raddatz from the ABC News will moderate the only vice-presidential debate on October 11 at Centre College, Danville in Kentucky.
"The new formats chosen for this year`s debates are designed to focus big time blocks on major domestic and foreign topics," said Frank Fahrenkopf and Michael McCurry, co-chairmen of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).
"These journalists bring extensive experience to the job of moderating, and understand the importance of using the expanded time periods to maximum benefit," they said.
The first debate will focus on domestic policy, while the second one will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues.
The third debate will focus on foreign policy.
Three high school students from New Jersey had started a Change.Org petition calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates to name a female presidential debate moderator in 2012.
"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 Siege, one of the three students.
"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," she said.
Carole Simpson, the former anchorwoman with ABC News who was the last woman to moderate a presidential debate in 1992, also gave her support to the petition, saying that there were plenty of qualified women with the gravitas to moderate a Presidential debate.