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Opinion: Gwen Ifill to play hurt in Thursday’s VP debate

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On Thursday, Gwen Ifill will reprise her 2004 role as moderator for the debate between the major-party vice presidential candidates by posing the questions for this year’s pair of running mates. But when the veteran PBS journalist convenes the nationally televised encounter, she will do so in hobbled condition.

Ifill broke one of her ankles last week while navigating a staircase. The mishap was debate-related; she was toting research material for it when she missed a step. But the injury won’t keep her from traveling to St. Louis for the faceoff between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

Ifill recently talked with the Associated Press about the challenge awaiting her. The story took note of the unprecedented interest in the debate, spurred both by Palin’s newness to the national scene and questions about how she’ll perform.

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Here’s the lead to the AP piece:

Being selected the moderator for a vice presidential debate is something like opening a suitcase on ‘Deal or No Deal’ and finding $1,000. Nice prize, but it’s no jackpot. Not this year. The Oct. 2 showdown between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will likely put Gwen Ifill before the biggest TV audience of her life.

Indeed, the political world (that includes us) would be shocked if the viewership doesn’t easily exceed the somewhat paltry numbers for Friday’s initial debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.

-- Don Frederick


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