Many viewers marveled at how much more civilized the second presidential election debate was - including the embattled moderator from the first one.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden squared off in person for the second and final time of this election race in Nashville on Thursday.
And whether it was because a mute button was employed for some questions this time around to allow each candidate to speak uninterrupted, or because both men heard the negative feedback from voters and pundits alike after their raucous first debate, both men made their cases on managing the pandemic, health care, energy, immigration and race relations in a much more orderly fashion. It was moderated by NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker.
And Fox News anchor Charles Wallace, who was criticized for letting the unruly and interruption-ridden first debate spin out of control, is feeling somewhat envious.
“Well, first of all, I’m jealous. I would’ve liked to have been able to moderate that debate and get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions,” Wallace said on Fox News after Thursday night’s more measured face off. “I thought it was a good debate. A good, substantive debate. Two very competing visions for the country.”
He also praises Welker’s performance in a segment to preview an upcoming “Fox News Sunday” segment , saying “Kristen Welker did a very good job as the moderator.”
Wallace praised Biden for having “many more specific plans,” and credited Trump for being “more fluid” in his presentation than Biden, who occasionally “seemed to falter a little bit.”
Many viewers had called on Wallace to “do your job” after much of the first debate featured the candidates talking over each other and insulting each other, rather than addressing the issues like health care and unemployment that Americans are concerned about right now. Wallace also said he was “disappointed” in how that debate went, and called it “a terrible missed opportunity.”
What a difference three weeks makes. This time around, commentators from across the political spectrum largely praised Welker, the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate since 1992.
“So far I respect very much the way you are handling this, I have to say,” he said at one point during the debate.
Some of Welker’s colleagues at the Comcast-owned /zigman2/quotes/209472081/composite CMCSA +2.25% NBC, including Brian Willians and Rachel Maddow, suggested that the president owed her an apology after the debate was done.
Welker also drew praise from conservatives including Newt Gingrich and Megyn Kelly, as well as fellow reporters and former First Lady of California Maria Shriver. Her name became a trending Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +3.23% topic on Thursday night.
There were some critics who argued she favored Biden, however, including conservative pundit Ann Coulter.
Read more of MarketWatch’s 2020 election coverage here.