PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Seeing Donald Trump in a prayer shawl in Detroit on a weekend that the FBI released their notes on interviews with Mrs. Clinton around her email scandal sums up the sheer bizarre nature of the 2016 presidential campaign. These stories are compelling and important but I think the debates are where this election will be won.
With that in mind, the announcement of the debate moderators is a key part of the story. I think the first debate is key for Donald Trump. If he appears to be presidential and pretty much aware of policy issues, he will be much tougher to beat. I think Lester Holt of NBC News will be fine as the moderator. He is like a referee that realizes people have come to see the nominees not the moderator. I don’t see him giving an advantage to either candidate.
The second debate which is in a town hall format and I think Trump unlike Republicans like Romney is good with questions from voters. This is where Mrs. Clinton and her policy wonk approach might be in trouble. Anderson Cooper as one of the moderators should not be a problem.
Martha Raddatz of ABC News might be a problem. She allowed Joe Biden in the 2012 vice presidential race to get away with murder. President Obama attended her wedding before she served as a moderator in 2012 and yet she didn’t see that as a problem.
The final debate is about foreign policy and this is an area where Clinton has a policy knowledge advantage but a record that Trump can pound. Chris Wallace, the moderator from Fox News, is someone that both candidates should be wary of. He grills politicians as forcefully as anyone on the current scene. I think Mrs. Clinton has the most to be wary of from Wallace.
I see these debates as among the most intriguing that we’ve ever seen.