But the candidates aren’t the only women making history this election season. On Tuesday night, Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan, host of The Intelligence Report with Trish Regan, and Sandra Smith, a co-host on Outnumbered, will become the first female duo in American history to moderate a presidential debate at the fourth GOP debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Joining them at the moderator’s table will be Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Gerald Seib.
The trio will handle the night’s undercard debate, where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will take the stage. The remaining eight candidates – including Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio – will face off in a primetime event.
Candidates who polled at less than one percent according to the four polls Fox Business used in making their selections – in this case, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki – were not invited to participate.
For both Regan and Smith, moderating a presidential debate is about as big as it gets.
A New Hampshire native, Regan spent her childhood shaking hands with the never-ending stream of presidential candidates visiting her hometown. Smith, on the other hand, is a former college athlete who compares moderating a debate to playing in the big leagues.
“I was talking to Bill Hemmer, who hosted the last Fox News debate,” she tells PEOPLE. “He said: ‘The only way I can describe the feeling that night is that feeling of competing at the highest level. You’re going to love it.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds fun!’ ”
But beyond the feminist history, Regan says she believes women voters especially will want to tune into the economic-centric debate.
“Women are effectively the CFOs of their family,” she says. “They’re very clued into these economic issues.”
Smith is used to sharing the stage with fellow females: Every day at noon, she sits on a panel of four women and one man on Outnumbered. And although she says that naturally, gender will play a role in the questions she asks, it’s not a matter of “playing the gender card.”
“We don’t have to press the gender issue,” she says. “It naturally comes through in our conversations that we are women, and women naturally bring a different perspective. It’s an organic thing.”
And these women in particular are ready, having spent recent nights and weekends studying tax plans, notes and news reports.
But “the news is changing,” Regan explains. “So these questions will keep changing right up until the minute we go on stage.” Plus, “a lot of it will be gauging each other.”
“We have an idea of where each other wants to go,” Smith adds. “We’re both into business and the economy, but we come from two different places.”
The pair’s big turn comes just two weeks after the controversial CNBC debate, in which the moderators were put under fire for their “disappointing” performance, leading the Republican party to suspend its contract with NBC. However, the flak their predecessors received isn’t worrying Regan and Smith, but instead reminding them (even more) to do their due diligence.
“It leaves a really good opportunity for us,” Smith says. “I think people were left wanting after the last debate, and it will be neat for us to be able to do our thing that we do every day.” As she maintains, she’s been ready for it “my whole career.”
Tune in to Fox Business Network at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday for the undercard debate, which will be followed by the primetime debate.