CNN Reportedly Planning Less-Confrontational Format for Democratic Debate

Anderson Cooper, moderator of Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, said that he is uncomfortable asking the type of confrontational, candidate-versus-candidate questions that Jake Tapper asked Republicans at the previous CNN debate.

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CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said on Sunday’s episode of Reliable Sources on CNN that he is preparing more substantive and less confrontational debate questions than the type Jake Tapper asked Republicans during the network’s GOP presidential debate.

I’m always uncomfortable with that notion of setting people up in order to kind of promote some sort of a face-off. I think these are all serious people. This is a serious debate. They want to talk about the issues. And I want to give them an opportunity to do that,” said Cooper according to The Chicago Tribune.

The level of humility and seriousness in this debate will be stark compared to what has been happening in the Republican debates, and that’s a good thing for our party,” said Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.

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Washington Examiner notes that Jake Tapper, the moderator of CNN’s September 16 GOP presidential debate, said prior to that contest that he was “trying to craft questions that, in most cases, pit candidates against the other.

Cooper said that his decision to devise a less-confrontational format was motivated by the tone of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns. “[Bernie Sanders] is not going to go after [front-runner] Hillary Clinton by name, he’s not going to criticize her. And I see no reason that Hillary Clinton would do that with any of the candidates,” asserted Cooper.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

However, University of Virginia Center for Politics political analyst Geoffrey Skelley suggested that the lower-polling candidates in the debate might benefit from going on the offensive, “On the campaign trail [the Democratic candidates have] been a little reticent to overly criticize [Clinton] but they might if they realize this is their one shot. Sanders actually might benefit in that sense that if he is in a position where the three lower-tier guys are attacking Clinton.

Democratic strategist and CNN analyst Paul Begala said, “Let’s be honest: Donald Trump truly is a ratings machine. Twenty-three million people did not tune in to [the Republican debate] to see Marco Rubio. So, unless the Democrats can talk one of the Kardashians into running, don’t expect the Democrats’ ratings to approach the Republicans’.

CNN’s televised Democratic debate, the first of the season, is set to kick off on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino. The contest will feature former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

The contest is being co-presented by Facebook and, in addition to moderator Anderson Cooper, will feature questions by correspondent Dana Bash, anchor Don Lemon, and CNN en Espanol anchor Juan Carlos.

Democratic presidential candidate and Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, who claims to have collected over $1 million in campaign contributions, will not be included in the debate as he failed to obtain at least 1 percent support in the specific polls outlined in CNN’s debate qualifications. However, Lessig was not included as a response in most of those polls.

If Vice President Joe Biden were to announce his candidacy today, he would qualify to participate under the debate’s criteria, meaning a last minute surprise entry by Biden could be within the realm of possibility.

For more election coverage, click here.

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