ABC's Martha Raddatz earns praise, a few snipes, for commanding debate performance
If she had any nerves about hosting her first national televised debate, ABC's Martha Raddatz didn't show it on Twitter Thursday night, sending out a message about her son going to football practice hours before the event's start.
Perhaps that was because Raddatz knew she was ready; while snap polls after the event said both GOP challenger Paul Ryan and vice President Joe Biden won Thursday's debate -- Ryan scored in CNBC and CNN polls, Biden won in CBS' survey -- the general consensus on Twitter was that the ABC correspondent acquitted herself well in controlling the discussion.
"I vote for Martha Raddatz to moderate all the debates," enthused Pulitzer prize-winning movie critic Roger Ebert on his Twitter page; "Credit Raddatz for penetrating questions, followups & keeping control of debate," noted Howard Kurtz, media critic and Washington bureau chief for Newsweek/Daily Beast and CNN.
"I was a little surprised I got in as many follow ups (questions)," Raddatz told anchors on Good Morning America this morning. moments later, she noted "that table is very intimate -- it's very different than the presidential debate...it felt very personal."
The qualities which won Raddatz praise seemed to address a lot of the criticism lobbed at presidential debate moderator Jim Lehrer a week earlier; Raddatz asked specific questions, stopped the candidates to move onto new topics when time expired, interrupted the candidates when they seemed to violate the debate rules and occasionally challenged each candidate to be specific on their answers.
She pressed the candidates for specific answers, centering her first question on the terrorist attack of the U.S. embassy in Libya, asking if what happened there wasn't "a massive intelligence failure." Administration officials have spent the past several days -- including time in front of a Congressional committee -- trying to explain why it took days to admit publicly that the attack in Benghazi which killed an ambassador was a planned assault, not part of a street protest as they originally claimed.
Conservatives seemed to criticize her question asking the candidates to detail how their Catholic beliefs shaped their position on abortion -- Biden scored with his answer, saying he wouldn't impose his beliefs on anyone of another faith -- without acknowledging the first question of the debate was on a topic unflattering to Democrats.
Like last week, the format allowed for plenty of back and forth; each candidate got two minutes to answer each question with several minutes of open discussion afterward. Biden kept interrupting Ryan, complaining about getting enough time, and Raddatz stepped in to keep the discussions from devolving into bickering.
Best of all, when Biden dismissed Ryan's answers as "malarkey" and "a bunch of stuff," Raddatz countered by asking "What's that mean, 'A bunch of stuff?'"
Here's hoping moderators to come Candy Crowley and Bob Schieffer were taking notes.