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Woman Among Presidential Debate Moderators For First Time In 20 Years

For the first time in 20 years, a woman — CNN's Candy Crowley — will moderate a presidential debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday.

The moderators for all three presidential debates and the sole vice-presidential debate were announced:

On Oct. 3, Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour will moderate the first of three televised debates between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. The Denver debate will focus on domestic policy.

On Oct. 11, Martha Raddatz of ABC News will moderate the sole debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in Danville, Ky.

On Oct. 16, Crowley will moderate the second presidential debate, in Hempstead, N.Y. Unlike the other debates, it will be a town hall-style discussion, with questions coming primarily from "undecided voters" selected by the Gallup polling organization.

On Oct. 22, Bob Schieffer of CBS News will host the final presidential debate, in Boca Raton, Fla. It will focus on foreign policy.

Lehrer has moderated 10 presidential debates, more than any other journalist, and one vice presidential debate. Schieffer has moderated two previous presidential debates. This will be the first time moderating a presidential or vice presidential debate for Crowley and Raddatz.

Three teenage girls from a Montclair, N.J., high school — Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel — had petitioned the commission to include a woman among the presidential debate moderators.

"Women were being overlooked, and while it might not have been an active prejudice, it was definitely there," Axelrod told NPR's All Things Considered on Monday. "So, the fact that now we're closing that gap of 20 years, that is what I'm excited that a woman will bring, the equal representation."

Axelrod says the group's petitions, including one at change.org, gathered more than 180,000 signatures.

The last woman to moderate a presidential debate was ABC's Carole Simpson in 1992. Gwen Ifill of PBS moderated vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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