On Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump battled on stage in Nashville, but moderator Kristen Welker emerged as the true star of the night. From the campus of Belmont University, Welker burst on to the nation's biggest stage as the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate in nearly 30 years. Differing from the month's previous verbal sparring session, Welker was able to keep the two candidate's relatively on topic. Asking hard-hitting questions about climate change and race relations in America, Welker not only earned the respect of those in attendance, but she also garnered support from journalists and viewers around the world.
"Between Kristen Welker and the Eagles, [it was a] big night for the city of Philadelphia," CNN's Jake Tapper tweeted.
"Cheers to Kristen Welker who asked substantive questions, was incredibly prepared, and was able to lead an informative and controlled debate tonight," tennis legend Billie Jean King tweeted.
Throughout the night, she remained determined to hold both candidates accountable for their recent actions. One of the more talked about moments of the night came when the moderator asked Trump about recent COVID-19 relief package negotiations with House Democrats.
"Mr. President, why haven't you been able to get them the help they need?" Welker asked.
"Because Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to approve it...I do," the President answered.
"But you're the President," she pushed back.
Welker's performance was so impressive that even the President praised her work. Just hours before the debate, Trump prematurely posted his interview with 60 Minutes and captioned it, “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse.” However, he changed his tone nearly an hour into the debate.
“By the way, so far, I respect very much the way you’re handling this. I have to say,” he told Welker.
Closing out the night, Welker earned the praise of Chris Wallace. While Wallace was heavily criticized for his inability to keep either candidate in check during the first debate, he admitted that he was "jealous" of Welker.
"I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate and to get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions," Wallace said.
Welker is just the second Black woman to host a presidential debate since ABC's Carole Simpson in 1992 and she is the only person of color to host a presidential debate during this election cycle. Given how she did, we only have one question. Why don't we let Black women lead the debate more often?
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