The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was a train wreck: Trump trampled over both Biden (who at one point implored Trump to “shut up”) and moderator Chris Wallace, who later said he had “never been through anything like this.”
NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker was in charge of moderating Thursday’s second and final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, and a calm debate this time around seemed unlikely, since Trump repeatedly trashed Welker this week as “extraordinarily unfair” and “a radical left Democrat, or whatever.”
But Welker, the first Black woman since 1992 to moderate a presidential debate on her own, did an exceptional job that received wide praise. She asked tough, substantive questions while ensuring that the debate moved at a productive pace. Many colleagues applauded her for being respectful, but not backing down from fact-checking both candidates on big issues.
Wallace told The New York Times on Thursday, “I’m jealous.”
Welker touched on important topics including Trump’s handling of COVID-19, the ensuing economic crisis, immigration policies and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“As of tonight, more than 12 million people are out of work and as of tonight, 8 million more Americans are born into poverty and more families are getting hungry every day. Those hit hardest are women and people of color,” Welker said before asking Trump a question about the coronavirus. “They see Washington fighting over a relief bill. Mr. President, why haven’t you been able to get them help they need?”
When Trump blamed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not approving it, Welker quickly responded: “But you’re the president.”