DES MOINES — In the hours after the deadly attacks in Paris, CBS News significantly reworked its plans for the Democratic presidential debate it is hosting here on Saturday night to focus more on issues of terrorism, national security and foreign relations.
Steve Capus, the executive editor of CBS News and the executive producer of “CBS Evening News,” said in an interview late Friday that he was in the middle of a rehearsal for the debate when news broke about the slaughter in Paris.
The CBS News team immediately shifted gears and reformulated questions to make them more directly related to the attacks. Mr. Capus said it was important for the debate to go on because the world looks to the American president for leadership during international crises.
“American leadership is put to the test,” Mr. Capus said. “The entire world is looking to the White House. These people are vying to take over this office.”
“This is exactly what the president is going to have to face,” he added.
Mr. Capus said the news team had planned a different debate, but “there is no question that the emphasis changes dramatically.”
“It is the right time to ask all the related questions that come to mind,” he added. “We think we have a game plan to address a lot of the substantive and important topics.”
The Des Moines debate, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time, is the first on a broadcast network so far this election season. The moderators are John Dickerson, anchor of the CBS News program “Face the Nation”; Nancy Cordes, the CBS News congressional correspondent; Kevin Cooney, an anchor for KCCI-TV in Des Moines; and Kathie Obradovich, political columnist at The Des Moines Register.
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