The debate will be moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, who Trump criticised as “terrible and unfair” in what appeared to be preemptive damage control.
Today’s showdown was meant to be the third debate but the second rumble, scheduled for October 15 US time, was cancelled after Trump refused to take part because it would be made virtual because of his COVID-19 diagnosis.
The big difference with today’s debate will be that Trump and Biden will have their microphones muted while their rival delivers their opening two-minute answer to each of the debate topics.
Here’s what you need to know about today’s moderator.
Who is Kristen Welker?
Kristen Welker is NBC News’ White House correspondent. The 44-year-old journalist hails from Philadelphia and graduated from Harvard University with a history degree.
She started her TV reporting career with local news stints in Redding, California; Providence, Rhode Island; and her home city before landing her White House role along with a gig as co-anchor of ‘Weekend Today.’
She was one of four questioners at a Democratic presidential debate last Autumn and will be the first Black woman to moderate a presidential debate since Carole Simpson in 1992.
Welker told Philly Voice her role models growing up were Oprah and Barbara Walters.
What has Trump said about Kristen Welker?
It’s a change of tone from January, when Trump congratulated Welker after she was given a slot as a weekend anchor, saying NBC “made a very wise decision.”
Trump senior campaign adviser Jason Miller recently said on Fox News that Welker — whom he characterised as “very fair” — would do an “excellent job” moderating the third debate, which will be in Nashville, Tennessee. “I have a very high opinion of Kristen Welker,” he said.
Trump previously agreed to Welker as a moderator.
But on Saturday, Trump ripped her in a tweet. “She’s aways been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News,” he wrote, adding: “But I’ll still play the game.”
The president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, piped up in a retweet: “Yikes! Here we go again!” He linked to an article claiming Welker has “deep Democratic ties.”
Trump also bashed Welker on Saturday at his rally in Janesville, Wisconsin, calling her “extraordinarily unfair.”
Some of Trump’s supporters also dug up evidence that Welker’s parents had contributed to Democratic campaigns in the past as a way of questioning her objectivity. There have been no such accusations levied against Welker, a registered independent.
What is Kristen Welker known for?
Welker has been with NBC since 2010 but Australians may know her as the journalist who swerved to avoid two falling TV light stands during her live broadcast outside the White House in April this year.
Welker calmly continued her report about the coronavirus pandemic, like it was no big deal.
Check out the clip here:
Some people on Twitter suggested Welker’s moves were straight out of ‘The Matrix’ movie franchise, starring Keanu Reeves, or a supernatural thriller.
Mary Papenfuss and Lee Moran from HuffPost US contributed to this report.
James Martin contributed to this report.