VP Debate: Bob Schieffer Preps For His Turn At Bat

By Alissa Krinsky Comment

VP Debate 035.JPG CBS’s Bob Schieffer is clipping newspapers. As he preps for his turn as debate moderator — he’ll be at the helm for the third and final Presidential debate October 15 — he tells TVNewser he’s cutting out articles to read as research. “I kind of do it the old-fashioned way,” he said last night while in St. Louis to cover the VP matchup. “I have some scissors at my desk…I usually read about five newspapers a day…I’ve got these big piles of research.”

He says the debate will be structured with nine 10-minute segments. Each candidate will have two minutes to answer the question at hand. “And then my job will be to encourage them to question each other about what they just heard.” His challenge will be the same as that faced by PBS’ Jim Lehrer, who moderated the first debate: to get the candidates to engage one another. “I thought it was interesting in the first debate, Lehrer really had a hard time getting them to do that…my guess is that I’ll have to get in there and ask them some follow-up questions.”

Schieffer’s focus will be on some of America’s big domestic issues — immigration, education, health care, Social Security — issues temporarily flying under the radar due to the country’s financial crisis. Lately, he says, “there really hasn’t been much time to talk about any of those things.”

As he readies for October 15, Schieffer says he likes consulting with what he calls his “focus groups.” Meaning, the public. He’s been traveling the country the past several weeks on a book tour, and says he loves “meeting the people who watch television and seeing who they are…This is how I find out what’s on people’s minds. If you don’t get out of Washington and get out and talk to people, it’s very easy to lose touch. This really brings you back to reality.”

And so Schieffer is raring to go for Presidential Debate #3. “I’m really up for it,” he explains, “because this campaign has just been so exciting.”