Kristen Welker is the moderator for the second and final 2020 presidential debate, as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden face off for the last time before election day. But is Welker a Democrat or a Republican? What are her political beliefs?
Trump called Welker’s politics into question when he began tweeting about how he believed she was “unfair” in mid-October. This has led many to wonder what Welker’s political beliefs are.
She’s always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I’ll still play the game. The people know! How’s Steve Scully doing? https://t.co/uS3EWzfFPy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2020
Welker, 44, is the NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchors Weekend Today. Noah Oppenheim, NBC News president, said about Welker: “Kristen represents the best of NBC News and of journalism generally. She’s fair, she’s deeply prepared, she’s well-versed in the issues and she’s going to do a great job.”
Welker joined NBC News in 2010 after working in Redding, California, and Rhode Island, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In September, Welker received the “Outstanding Journalist in Broadcast Television” award from the Washingtonian, Women in Journalism reported.
She’s a Registered Independent Today & Was a Registered Democrat in 2012
In her voter registration records, Welker is a registered Independent, the Chicago Tribune reported. The New York Post, meanwhile, reported that in 2012 she was registered as a Democrat in Washington, D.C., and in 2004 she was registered as a Democrat in Rhode Island. Politifact confirmed that she had been registered as a Democrat in 2012, according to the District of Columbia Board of Elections, and now has no registered political affiliation.
Welker has tweets showing she’s quite point-blank about her interactions with Trump. In one, she shared that Trump called her a “disgrace” for asking a question about Russia.
Moments ago I asked @POTUS “yes or no” if he’s ever worked for Russia. His response: “I have never worked for Russia.” He also said it’s a “disgrace” that I asked the question.
— Kristen Welker (@kwelkernbc) January 14, 2019
Jim Acosta of CNN referred to her as a “consummate professional.. tough but fair.”
I’ve worked alongside @kwelkernbc during two admins now. She’s the consummate professional.. tough but fair. Looking forward to watching her moderate Thursday’s debate.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 20, 2020
The Federalist, a conservative publication, painted her as an anti-Trump activist for asking Trump if he had “ever worked for Russia.” The Federalist also condemned Welker for calling Kamala Harris a moderate compared to progressives in the Democratic party. However, many progressives expressed disappointment with Harris, believing she was too “establishment” leaning and not far left enough, The New York Times reported.
Alex Howard of the Digital Democracy Project said Welker asks “tough, fair questions.”
She’s a smart journalist who asks tough, fair questions of people in power, & a kind, generous person.
Trump should apologize for calling her “terrible,” but won’t. https://t.co/7r0UzSxNuy
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) October 18, 2020
Trump Once Called Welker ‘Dishonest’ but He Also Once Praised Her for Being a Good Journalist
Trump and Welker have had a rollercoaster ride of moments in the past. In July 2018, Welker asked Trump in a press conference if he had given Putin the “upper hand” by criticizing Prime Minister Theresa May, Mediaite reported. Trump said about her question: “That’s such dishonest reporting. Of course it happens to be NBC — which is possibly worse than CNN.”
Journalists at the time, including NBC colleague Ken Dilanian, said Trump was overreacting to a fact-based question.
Now the president of the United States is accusing @kwelkernbc of "dishonest reporting," because she asked a fact-based question about statements that all of us heard with our own ears.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) July 13, 2018
But after that, Trump was more complimentary of Welker. In January after Welker was given a weekend anchor position, Trump congratulated her, HuffPost reported. He said NBC made a “very wise decision.” Watch that moment below.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 17, 2020
Welker Was 1 of 4 Questioners at a Democratic Debate
Welker was one of four questioners during one of the Democratic debates. You can watch that debate above.
She went viral in April when two TV light stands fell during her live broadcast and she handled the whole thing quite calmly.
First-round pocket presence. pic.twitter.com/1FWJWkLduO
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 22, 2020
She’s Married to John Hughes, Who Works as a Marketing Director for Merck & Her Parents Have Donated to Democrats
She’s married to John Hughes, a Merck marketing director. They were married in 2017, Business Insider reported.
Her parents have donated to Democrats, including more than $23,000 to Barack Obama between 2008 and 2012. However, parents’ political leanings are not always an indication of how their children feel. Politifact confirmed that Welker’s own FEC records don’t show donations to any political candidates.
She Once Posed in a Photo with the Obamas in December 2012
A photo has gone viral on social media showing Welker and her father standing with then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at a White House holiday reception in 2012. Welker shared the photo on Facebook on December 13, 2012, writing: “Christmas at the White House!”
USA Today reported that Christmas parties with reporters at the White House are a longstanding tradition and not unusual. The parties typically include photos with the President and the first lady and are invitation-only. Richard Hudock, NBC spokesperson, told USA Today that she also attended the Trump White House press party in 2017, but the administration ended the tradition in 2018.
She Did Not Include Foreign Policy in Her Debate Topics
The Commission had originally announced that tonight’s debate topics would focus on foreign affairs, KIRO 7 reported, but Welker announced different topics. Trump’s campaign requested that the debate continue its original focus on foreign policy.
Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission) pic.twitter.com/ZsY5JfMbT7
— BillStepien (@BillStepien) October 19, 2020
The Commission noted that the debate topics are subject to change based on news developments.