CNN's Candy Crowley to moderate Hofstra presidential debate

CNN anchor and chief political correspondent Candy Crowley,

CNN anchor and chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, who will moderate one of three October debates between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday. Photo Credit: AP/ Newsday File Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

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In moderating the Oct. 16 presidential debate at Hofstra University, veteran political reporter Candy Crowley will become the first woman in two decades to referee such a contest.

Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondent, will moderate in Hempstead the second of three October presidential debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday. It will be the first time a female journalist has moderated a presidential debate since ABC News' Carole Simpson in 1992.

"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," Crowley said in a statement.

Crowley, a 25-year CNN veteran, will moderate questions in a town hall-style debate at Hofstra, the commission said. Undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization will ask President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney about foreign and domestic policy issues.

"We are thrilled to host the 2012 town hall presidential debate and look forward to welcoming renowned journalist Candy Crowley to Hofstra University," said Melissa Connolly, vice president of university relations.

The announcement came amid growing pressure on the commission to pick a female moderator, including an online petition by three New Jersey teenagers that accumulated more than 120,000 signatures since June.

This fall's debate moderator lineup also includes ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz, who will referee an Oct. 11 vice presidential debate. Jim Lehrer of PBS and Bob Schieffer of CBS will moderate the Oct. 3 and Oct. 22 presidential debates, respectively.

The debate at Hofstra, beginning at 9 p.m., will give the candidates two minutes each to answer audience inquiries, along with a minute for Crowley's follow-up questions.

"Candy's brand of political reporting makes her the perfect choice for this role," Sam Feist, CNN's Washington bureau chief, said in a statement. "Her special style of storytelling brilliantly connects what's happening on the campaign trail to America's voters."

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