1. She took control. Though we know some of our more conservative friends (Joe Biden's new favorite word, perhaps?) think Raddatz was too tough on Paul Ryan and not tough enough on Biden, she did interrupt and challenge both candidates throughout the evening. Most importantly, she kept a firm hand on the discussion. She let Biden and Ryan meander verbally when warranted, but called them out when they went too far afield and moved to different topics when either one was dragging something out too long. Biden was obviously in attack mode, but she wasn’t afraid to cut him off and give Ryan his turn. She also didn’t back down when the candidates talked over her (respect!) — unlike the moderator of the last debate, who seemed to acquiesce to Mitt Romney early on and never was able to regain control of the conversation.
2. She asked tough questions. From the first question (a hardball aimed directly at Biden, on Libya), Raddatz pushed both candidates with smart, direct phrasing, and important topics that weren’t just an invitation for the same tired sound bite. She didn’t just ask about their stances on abortion; she asked what role Biden and Ryan’s religion (they’re both Catholic) played in shaping their views on it. She also struck the right balance with her tone — she was never mean, but she did note at one point that though she was asking a “very simple question,” she had a feeling she wasn’t going to get a simple answer. Way to keep it real, Martha!
3. She listened. This might be our favorite thing about the debate. Instead of asking a question and then letting the candidates drone on, Raddatz listened to the answers (she’s a journalist, after all) and asked follow-ups based on what they said. Many times, it feels like moderators (and, sometimes, reporters — us included) are so focused on how to phrase their next question that they forget to listen to the answers. Raddatz listened, asked for clarification, and specificity, didn't let them get away with not answering questions, and interrupted them if they drifted off course.
4. She didn’t let criticisms before the event distract her. It turns out that when Raddatz got married in 1991 — to someone she divorced in 1997 — President Obama was at the wedding. This tidbit emerged a few months ago, but criticism about Raddatz’ fitness as an impartial moderator really reached a fever pitch in the days and hours before the debate. Still, Raddatz didn’t let it shake her. She came prepared and didn’t put up with any…malarkey.
5. She looked pretty great while doing all of it. Yeah, we know appearance isn’t everything. But when you consider the fact that many people in Washington’s political class think looking like a rumpled mess is an indication of your brilliance and competence, and look down their noses at anyone who has the gall to brush their hair and put on lip gloss, it’s important. No, she wasn’t rocking couture. But she wasn’t the bride at this particular shindig anyway. We think her tailored, belted black skirt suit and blonde hair looked perfectly lovely and perfectly appropriate.
Photo: Courtesy of ABC