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Bessent: Martha Raddatz is no Jim Lehrer

Moderator Martha Raddatz watches as Vice President Joe

Moderator Martha Raddatz watches as Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin participate in the vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (Oct. 11, 2012) Credit: AP

Martha Raddatz is no Jim Lehrer.

He was savaged as a moderator for losing control of the presidential debate last week. Raddatz clearly got the message.

She’s been understated and focused. There’s no doubt she’s the one in control of the content and flow. But she’s on her home turf too. She’s a foreign correspondent at ABC News and knows of what she speaks.

Her followup questions are pointed and have often managed to cut through the rhetorical fog.

For instance, after a long, feisty exchange on plans to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, which Paul Ryan said was another example of President Barack Obama’s weak foreign policy, Raddatz kept pushing until it became clear that the only real difference Ryan had with the Obama policy was making the pullout date public. You can have a good argument about the wisdom of signaling the administration’s intentions for all the world to hear, but that’s a tempest in a teapot compared to what at first seemed a difference of opinion on when to pull out.

By the end of the exchange Ryan’s criticism seemed like a stretch to find a something to fight about.

It was useful too, that Ryan was pushed to say American boots should be put on the ground in a foreign war zone only when the nation’s vital national interests were at stake. Romney needs to be pinned down on that too.

Pictured above: Moderator Martha Raddatz watches as Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin participate in the vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (Oct. 11, 2012)

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