Forty years into a career as TV news's most enduring host, CBS' Bob Schieffer has become a voice of the American Everyman.But never in that career had he watched a presidential debate like the rest of us: at home, with counterpoint commentary from his wife, Pat."I would say, 'Wow, he really zinged him there,' and Pat would say, 'Oh, no, I don't agree,'" Schieffer said by phone Friday, preparing to moderate the third and last debate Monday in Boca Raton, Fla."And I said, 'What?!'"Schieffer met the former Patricia Penrose of Fort Worth by chance in 1967 at The Original Mexican Restaurant, when he was anchoring in his hometown at NBC5."In 45 years, we've never told each other how we vote, and I think we'll keep it that way," he said.Any push-back Monday will come from President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, locked in a suddenly close presidential campaign that might turn on this debate, devoted solely to foreign policy.Schieffer knows he can expect the same resistance as predecessors Jim Lehrer and Candy Crowley. Also the same complaints."People pay too much attention to moderators," he said."We're like the umpires. You only hear criticism from the losing team."Schieffer, 75 and in his 22nd year as host of CBS' Face the Nation, heard mostly cheers as moderator of the final presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.In 2008, with Obama debating Sen. John McCain, Reuters' Paul Gough wrote that Schieffer "dug, and pressed, and wouldn't let the candidates off the hook easily -- all of which made for a more interesting 90 minutes.""These debates are not about what the candidates say," Schieffer said."People are watching to judge character. I don't think it matters what the questions are about -- what matters is how candidates answer. Do they seem in control? ... I'm just there to help the viewers get a better understanding of who these people are."Schieffer said Romney's confidence and command of details made him a clear winner in the first debate, staged in a traditional setting with lecterns. Obama won the second -- a wandering town hall format -- but it was closer, Schieffer said.On Monday, the three men will sit together at a small table, like in 2008."It's a much better way to keep control and keep everybody on point," Schieffer said.Until this year, Schieffer hadn't missed a debate in person since 1972. He stayed home to avoid what he called the "toxic" level of attention this year, he said.That's given him more time to watch his beloved TCU Horned Frogs. He knew one name without checking a script. "That Trevone Boykin is a mighty fine quarterback," he said.Schieffer, honored in the name of the university's Schieffer School of Journalism, visited for the first game in remodeled Amon G. Carter Stadium.He reads the student news page, TCU360.com, daily."I'll be back before their season's over," he said.It's his favorite season.Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538Twitter: @budkennedy
Lynn University, a small college in Boca Raton, Fla., will host the final presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney on Monday night.
The debate begins at 8 p.m. and lasts 90 minutes.
All television news networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, will air the debate.
Online viewers also have lots of options. The Commission on Presidential Debates has partnered with several sites on a project called "The Voice Of," at aol.com/thevoiceof, youtube.com/thevoiceof and yahoo.com/thevoiceof.
Source: Commission on Presidential Debates