Sandra Smith, a reporter for Fox Business Channel, will co-moderate the GOP undercard debate Thursday at 6 p.m. with Fox Business anchor Trish Regan. Smith previously co-moderated the November 10 undercard debate with Smith and Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau chief Gerald Sieb.
Smith, 35, was born and raised outside Chicago. While studying at LSU, she ran on the track team, winning a national championship in 2003. After college, she worked as a research associate for financial services and capital firms before breaking into television as a reporter for Fox Business. Smith co-hosts Fox News’s Outnumbered and has co-hosted morning show Fox Friends on an intei baidd
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Smith & Trish Regan Are the First All-Female Debate Moderation Team
While Smith and Regan previously moderated the GOP undercard debate with Sieb, the network chose to have them return as a duo for Thursday’s debate, which Fox Business is sponsoring alone, thus making them the first female duo to moderate a presidential debate. Additionally, the network’s selection of Maria Bartiromo means that three of four moderators in Thursday’s debate will be female.
Smith discussed the unique situation in an interview with Elle:
I certainly do things differently because I’m a woman. But I don’t force the issue. I don’t say, ‘Because I’m a woman, I do X or Y.’ Being a woman is enough. Whatever happens happens organically, whether it’s anchoring a show or asking questions at a debate.
2. She Won a National Championship in Track at LSU in 2003
After briedly attending Illiois State, Smith transferred to LSU and ran on its track team. Smith holds the school number 2 all-time spot in steeplechase, a 3,000-meter run featuring hurdles and water jumps. The 2003 LSU women’s track team won the outdoor track national championship.
Sandra Smith told Runner’s World she still tries to run every day and compared debate prep to preparing for a race:
It [involves] constant, constant preparation. It is writing questions, updating questions, throwing questions out. It’s staying on top of absolutely everything and everything that every candidate says and does. I lay in bed at night thinking about questions…it’s a total adrenaline rush. I don’t get nervous about it at all, because I feel like we’re so prepared, but when the adrenaline kicks in, it is fun.
3. Her Husband Introduced Her to TV Journalism
After graduating from LSU, Smith worked for capital firms in New York City before taking a trading job in Chicago. Her first two weeks there were the last two for future husband John Connolly, who left the company to found his own business. Connolly was at the time providing the firm’s TV coverage, and trained her to replace him. The role was her first experience in TV Journalism. Smith and Connolly married in 2010 and have two children.
4. Her Show ‘Outnumbered’ Is No. 1 in its Time Slot
Smith co-hosts the show with Harris Faulkner, a rotating cast of two female co-hosts, and “one lucky guy” as a guest. The Daily Beast describes Smith as, in addition to hosting, serving as the unofficial “wardrobe czarina” of the show, with Smith describing the dress code as simply “that we look and sound our best every single day. It’s a visual medium.”
The hosts’ dress, however, has led to detractors calling it “The Show That Sexism Built”. Smith, for her part, has addressed “sexist” images used on the show, getting lascivious swimsuit images removed from the show’s background roll.
5. She Described Tonight’s Undercard Debate as ‘Potentially Game-Changing’
In an interview with Refinery29, described the undercard debate, necessary due to an unusually wide field, as a “necessary” and “exciting” moment:
It’s an exciting moment! I think a lot of people are excited for this. It could be potentially game-changing…two debates certainly allows [for more questions], and it’s just still necessary, at this point.
That first debate is still key for these candidates to be in a position to make a big move if they want to. There’s less people in that first debate. They clearly can get their message across if they choose to.