Mission impossible? Welker on tap to moderate second debate

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This image provided by NBC News shows NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker. On Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, Welker is scheduled to moderate the second and last Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden. (NBC News via AP)

NEW YORK – This fall's presidential debates have chewed up moderators.

President Donald Trump steamrolled Chris Wallace with constant interruptions in the first one, a performance that cost the Republican incumbent support in the polls. Susan Page struggled to make the vice presidential candidates adhere to time limits their campaigns had agreed to in advance.

Next up: Kristen Welker.

The NBC News White House correspondent is scheduled to moderate Thursday's second and last session between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. It's hard not to feel trepidation for her.

Both of her predecessors came into the assignments with more experience. While Welker was one of four questioners at a Democratic presidential debate last fall, this is by far the 44-year-old journalist's biggest stage. Trump and his supporters have already tried to get in her head by attacking her in advance.

Colleague Savannah Guthrie's well-received (except by Trump) town hall with the president last week offered Welker a roadmap to success, but also may have ratcheted up the pressure.

“Kristen represents the best of NBC News and of journalism generally,” said her boss, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim. “She's fair, she's deeply prepared, she's well-versed in the issues and she's going to do a great job.”

The Philadelphia-born Welker has been with NBC News since 2010, after local news stints in Redding, California; Providence, Rhode Island; and her home city. A former intern at the “Today” show, she now hosts the program's weekend edition.