Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour to moderate VP debate at WUSTL

Aug. 5, 2008 — Gwen Ifill, a longtime correspondent and moderator for nationally televised public broadcasting news programs, has been selected to moderate the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis.

Gwen Ifill

Paul G. Kirk Jr. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., co-chairmen of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), today announced the moderators for the 2008 general election presidential and vice presidential debates.

Ifill also moderated the CPD’s 2004 vice presidential debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards, held Oct. 5 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

She serves as moderator and managing editor of PBS’ “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” More background on her career is available on the PBS Web site:

The moderators, schedule and locations for the CPD presidential debates are as follows:

First presidential debate
Friday, Sept. 26
The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss.
Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” PBS

Second presidential debate (town meeting)
Tuesday, Oct. 7
Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.
Tom Brokaw, special correspondent, NBC News

Third presidential debate
Wednesday, Oct. 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host, “Face the Nation”

Each debate will begin at 9 p.m. (EDT).

The format for the debates, as initially announced by the CPD on Nov. 21, 2007, will be as follows:

• Each debate will have a single moderator and last for 90 minutes.

• In the first and third presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, the candidates will be seated with the moderator at a table.

• One presidential debate will focus primarily on domestic policy and one presidential debate will focus primarily on foreign policy. The second presidential debate will be held as a town meeting in which citizens will pose questions to the candidates. The vice presidential debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics.

• During the first and third presidential debates, and the vice presidential debate, the time will be divided into eight 10-minute segments. The moderator will introduce each segment with an issue on which each candidate will comment, after which the moderator will facilitate further discussion of the issue, including direct exchange between the candidates for the balance of that segment.

• The participants in the town meeting will pose their questions to the candidates after reviewing their questions with the moderator for the sole purpose of avoiding duplication. The participants will be chosen by the Gallup Organization and will be undecided voters from the Nashville, Tenn., standard metropolitan statistical area. During the town meeting, the moderator has discretion to use questions submitted by Internet.

• Time at the end of the final presidential debate will be reserved for closing statements.

As also announced in November, the CPD 2008 Candidate Selection Criteria will be the exclusive means of determining the candidates to be invited to participate in the debates.

For more information, please visit

For media assistance, contact Janet Brown of the CPD at 202-872-1020; or Steve Givens of WUSTL at (314) 935-5408;