Candy Crowley, Chief Political Correspondent for CNN, was the moderator of the second presidential debate of 2012. No big deal, right?
Actually, it is a big deal. Not only is Crowley the first woman in 20 years to moderate one of the four presidential debates, but her appointment may very well be related to a petition started by three high school girls from New Jersey. (Okay, so it’s not clear how much weight their petition had, but we like to think it had some!)
Elena Tsemberis, Emma Axelrod and Sammi Siegel petitioned the Commission on Presidential Debates through Change.org in July, asking that a woman be considered as a serious candidate for the position as moderator.
“Presidential debate moderators have a lot of power when it comes to helping the American public to better understand candidates,” their petition states. “Being a moderator is a tough job … Men are no more capable of performing these tasks than women–but for the last two decades, only men have been given the job.”
They gathered more than 122,000 online signatures with the intent of printing out some of the pages, storing the signatures on a flash drive, and presenting it in person to the Commission. Except things didn’t go quite as planned: When the three activists showed up at the Commission’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., they were turned away and told the office “doesn’t accept packages anymore.” (As a note, the Commission received an email every time someone signed the petition.)
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But no matter, because the appointment of Crowley as the second debate moderator satisfied Tsemberis, Axelrod and Siegel’s ultimate goal. As Axelrod writes for Poynter:
“I think that Candy Crowley did a fantastic job in the last presidential debate, but that’s not what I will remember when I look back on the 2012 presidential debates between Obama and Romney. What I will remember is the fact that she was up there.”