It’s the unknown that keeps presidential debates exciting, says Fox Business Network’s Sandra Smith.
And the LSU graduate is sure there will be surprises when she moderates her second Republican Presidential undercard debate on the network Thursday afternoon.
With Trish Regan, Smith will pose questions to current lower-polling GOP presidential hopefuls Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
That debate will precede the 8 p.m. face off among front-runners real estate mogul Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“It’s always anybody’s moment, anybody’s day, so we’ll see,” says Smith from New York.
In November, the first debate was a game-changer for at least one of the candidates.
“Gov. Christie had sort of a breakout moment, and he was considered a big winner of that debate, and he has since climbed in many of the polls, including the most recent New Hampshire poll,” Smith says.
The FBN reporter, 35, considers her moderating duties an immense responsibility.
“It’s a lot of preparation, but a complete honor and I so much look forward to doing it again,” says Smith, who is a native of Wheaton, Illinois.
In between her reporting and sitting on the rotating host panel for Fox News’ weekday news and talk show “Outnumbered,” Smith and Regan formulated their debate plan.
“It was a lot of Trish and I getting together and discussing our questions and writing questions, reworking questions,” she says. “And we certainly have to keep up with the news cycle, the news is changing so rapidly, and we have to make sure we are in line with the needs and desires of the American voter, and what the most important issues are. And those change, and they’ve changed since the last debate.”
In contrast to November, when the economy seemed to be most on the minds of voters, now people are concerned with safety, national security and foreign policies.
“These are all going to be huge issues for us in this debate,” Smith says. “It is important to ask these candidates, in some capacity, what is America’s role in the world? Candidates really need to be specific as to how we will fight terror and grow the U.S. economy, who are our friends and who are our enemies.”
Smith says she doesn’t get nervous before such big events, “but you do get that rush.”
She compares it (as she did in a recent People magazine story) to running track and field under legendary LSU coach Pat Henry in the early 2000s.
“It was a defining moment in my life,” she says. “I’ve kept my experience at LSU with me every single day.”