Debate moderators have vowed to fade into the background Saturday evening for the second Democratic showdown, looking to avoid the poor reviews CNBC moderators received for a Republican debate last month in Boulder, Colorado. CBS News, along with partners Twitter, KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register, will host Saturday's event in Des Moines, Iowa.
The news outlets have tapped as moderators John Dickerson and Nancy Cordes of CBS News, Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register and Kevin Cooney of KCCI.
Viewers will find the second Democratic debate to be a little less crowded than the first, with former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee having ended their bids for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination. This time, with just three candidates -- former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley -- the moderators have said they're looking forward to taking a closer look at election 2016 issues.
Dickerson, 47, is a veteran journalist, who clocked in more than 12 years at Time magazine, before he became the political director of CBS News and host of Sunday show "Face the Nation," succeeding longtime host Bob Schieffer. Dickerson told the Des Moines Register the moderators plan to delve deep into key issues.
“The goal of the moderator is to illuminate the views of the candidates on the issues that matter the most to voters, and you don’t need to be on the side of the party to do that,” Dickerson said.
Sanders' campaign has reported that the CBS moderators have gone to further lengths than CNN, the host of the first Democratic debate, to communicate with the campaigns ahead of the Saturday event.
“[Dickerson] and his team were very interested in getting to better know the senator's stand on a wide spectrum of issues, what he would do about income inequality in this country," Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told Politico. "John Dickerson's a smart, impressive guy who cares a lot about the issues. I'm sure we'll see a smart, issues-oriented debate."
Cordes is a colleague of Dickinson's at CBS News, where she has been covering the 2016 presidential campaign. In an interview with Politico, Cordes said that with fewer candidates on the stage, the moderators will be able to spend more time on certain topics, with a focus on the economy.
“Our goal is to ask the candidates questions that help to illuminate for primary voters their differences on key issues -- the way they would work to make life better for average Americans. So we’re going to be focusing, as we’ve always planned, on the issues that people care about,” Cordes said.
For their part, Iowans Cooney and Obradovich will offer their extensive knowledge of the state's political landscape. Cooney is a native Iowan and joined KCCI-TV in Des Moines after graduating from Iowa State University. Obradovich is a political columnist for the Des Moines Register, where she led the 2004 coverage of the Iowa caucuses. She tends to write about issues such as Medicaid and taxes, Vox reported.
The debate will air at 9 p.m. EST Saturday on CBS.