Lehrer accepts invitation to moderate first presidential debate

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Jim Lehrer, executive editor of PBS NewsHour, will moderate the first national presidential debate on Oct. 3, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced today. The 90-minute event from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern will focus on domestic policy.

In a statement accepting the invitation, Lehrer said he was particularly interested in the new format: six  segments of about 15 minutes each on topics chosen by the moderator and announced several weeks before the event.

“I believe an invitation from the Commission on Presidential Debates is similar to a draft notice — a civic responsibility,” Lehrer said. “Even so, it was a difficult decision, because I have previously said I would not do any more debates. It was the new and expanded format that finally tipped the scales for me. I share the Commission on Debates’ belief that the format has the possibility to open up the debates for a more spontaneous and deeper exchange of positions and ideas. I could not say no to trying to make that work to the fullest. It was truly an offer I could not refuse and I am honored by the invitation.”

Lehrer has moderated 11 national presidential debates and wrote a book on his experience, Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain.