Being Able To ‘Listen’ Was Key, Presidential Debate Host Welker Says

Widely praised for her role as debate moderator, NBC News White House reporter Kristen Welker says it was all a matter of being a good listener.

In an interview with Elle, Welker, 44, the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate since 1992, says she wanted her questions to be ”meaningful” to voters during the final debate between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.

”I just kept saying to myself, ‘Listen and be present,’ she told the outlet. ”I thought it was critical that we talked about the issues that mattered to voters, and I wanted the questions to be accessible.”

She told Elle that ahead of the debate, she called voters to ask what issues they wanted the candidates to discuss, and held mock debates to test questions and to develop strategies to move along the discussion.

”My strategy going into this was, ‘How do we give the American people the information they need to have days before an election?”’ she told Elle.

She also tried not to listen to critics, including Trump, who tweeted that her moderation would be ”far worse than his contentious interview with Lesley Stahl of ’60 Minutes.’

”Of course, it never feels good to have people talking about you. I had to tune it out,” she told Elle. ”If I needed to know something, they let me know about it. Otherwise, I had to stay focused because I didn’t have time to get distracted.”

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