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With Just Three on Stage, Democratic Debate Moderator Plans to Dive Deep

This Saturday, the Democrats will engage in their second debate. With only three candidates on the stage, CBS News debate moderators plan to challenge them with difficult policy-based questions.

Moderator John Dickerson and his team met and developed a plan of action for the debate.

“[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,” said Bernie Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs. He said they discussed issues where there are real differences between the candidates — including gun control, the death penalty and raising taxes on the middle class. “John Dickerson’s a smart, impressive guy who cares a lot about the issues,” Briggs said. “I’m sure we’ll see a smart, issues-oriented debate.”

POLITICO reports:

A CBS News official said Dickerson’s outreach to the campaigns was the same type of research he conducts for his weekly show, “Face the Nation.” The official said Dickerson talked with three dozen people and organizations beyond the campaigns to “immerse himself” in the issues.

Alongside Dickerson will be CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes; Kevin Cooney, anchor for KCCI-TV, the local CBS affiliate; and Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich.
“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.

Cordes said the extra time will give the moderators opportunities for extended sections on one single topic.

“The beauty of having just three candidates is that you can spend more time on each issue and with each candidate,” Cordes said. ”

You don’t feel like you need to jump from topic to topic so quickly that you never get to explore what it is that the candidate would do and how they deal with perhaps some of the drawback of the plans they have proposed. We can go beyond the 35- or 45-second talking point you hear in their stump speech all the time.”

Photo credit: John Dickerson.

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