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CNN's Candy Crowley Will Be First Woman in 20 Years to Moderate a Presidential Debate

Candy Crowley Headshot - P 2012

The "State of the Union" host will preside over the Obama-Romney showdown at Hofstra University on Oct. 16.

CNN's Candy Crowley breaks a two-decade glass ceiling as the first female moderator for a presidential debate in 20 years.

The cable news network's chief political correspondent and host of its Sunday show State of the Union will preside over the showdown between President Obama and Mitt Romney at Hofstra University in Hempsted, New York, on Oct. 16.

“Candy’s brand of political reporting makes her the perfect choice for this role," Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, said in a statement. "Her special style of storytelling brilliantly connects what’s happening on the campaign trail to America’s voters. We’re so proud that one of our own has been selected for this high honor.”

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates came under direct pressure to name a female moderator from former ABC News anchor Carole Simpson, who was the last woman to moderate a presidential debate. Three students from New Jersey’s Montclair High School also took up the cause; Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis started a petition on change.org after learning of the commission’s record of overwhelmingly choosing male moderators for presidential debates.

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Simpson moderated a 1992 presidential debate between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Barbara Walters moderated presidential debates in 1984 and 1976. And PBS’ Gwen Ifill has moderated multiple vice-presidential debates including the 2008 matchup between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin that, like so many events of that election, earned a parody on Saturday Night Live.

ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz will nominate the single vice-presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky on Oct. 11.

The other two 2012 presidential debates will be presided over by frequent moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS and CBS’ Bob Schieffer. Lehrer will host the first presidential debate Oct. 3 at University of Denver while Schieffer will moderate the third and final presidential debate Oct. 22 from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.

“As someone who is in awe and grateful every day to be  in a country where freedom of the press, free speech and free elections are a way of life, I am wowed, amazed and excited by the opportunity to moderate a 2012 presidential debate,” said Crowley in a statement. “Congratulations are in order as well to Martha, Jim and Bob. I am so proud to be in their company.”