The Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday announced the slate of moderators for all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate.
The first debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, set for Sept. 29 in Cleveland, will be hosted by “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, who in 2016 became the first journalist from his network — known for its primetime lineup of Trump-friendly hosts — to moderate a general election debate.
Steve Scully, senior executive producer and political editor for C-SPAN, will moderate the second debate, a town-hall style event set to take place on Oct. 15 in Miami.
The final debate between Trump and Biden will be moderated by NBC News White House correspondent and weekend “Today” show co-anchor Kristen Welker. That debate is scheduled for Oct. 22, in Nashville, Tenn., less than two weeks before voters head to the polls.
Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, will moderate the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). That debate is scheduled for Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City.
The selection of debate moderators did not appear to please the Trump campaign, which last month issued a list of two dozen suggested moderators populated largely by Fox News personalities and other conservative pundits. None of the four announced moderators appeared on the Trump campaign's suggested list.
"These are not the moderators we would have recommended if the campaign had been allowed to have any input. Some can be identified as clear opponents of President Trump, meaning Joe Biden will actually have a teammate on stage most of the time to help him excuse the radical, leftist agenda he is carrying," said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign's communications director, though he seemed to signal the campaign's approval of Wallace, knocking Biden for refusing to sit for an interview with the anchor.
The Trump and Biden campaigns have sparred regularly over the upcoming debates, with each campaign accusing the other of looking to back out of the debates. The Trump campaign had also requested a fourth debate prior to the Sept. 29 contest, citing an expected influx of early and mail-in voting in this year’s election because of the coronavirus pandemic.
By the time of the first debate, wrote Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in a letter to the debate commission, voters in more than a dozen states will have been allowed to start casting their votes. The commission rejected that request.
Alex Isenstadt contributed to this report.