Alex Trebek moderates Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate, opens with trivia question

"Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek traded in questions about Potent Potables for ones about underfunded pensions Monday night when he moderated the single debate in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race.

The showdown between incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner took place at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry's annual dinner in Hershey, attended by about 1,700 people.

"When I was asked by the Chamber if I would come here and be the moderator for this event, I was not drunk," Trebek said in remarks before the main debate. "I accepted immediately. Didn't give it a second thought ... Obviously, I’m not as bright as some of you people in the audience think I am."

Trebek said he had agreed to moderate the debate on the condition that it be more of a conversation than a "Jeopardy-style quiz show."

"I'm not here to embarrass the candidates," the 78-year-old joked. "They are perfectly capable of doing that all by themselves."

Despite his promise, Trebek gave Wolf a football pop quiz with his first question, asking the governor to give the "name of the starting defensive lineman who has won two consecutive Super Bowls for the Eagles, each one with a different team."

"I guess you're going to want me to put that in the form of a question?" answered the bemused Wolf before Trebek pivoted into a question about civility in politics.

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It wasn't the last time Trebek raised eyebrows. Later in the debate, he noted the state legislature's low approval rating and said "the only thing with a lower rating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the Catholic Church." A recent grand jury report identified a total of more than 300 priests alleged to have sexually abused children in six of Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses.

"Don't go there," Trebek told the murmuring crowd. "I was born and raised Catholic and I'm just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the Church."

Wolf is favored to win a second term in the Nov. 6 election and agreed to just one head-to-head debate, which prompted Wagner to call the governor "gutless." Wager, who runs a $75 million waste-hauling business, served four years in the state Senate, resigning in June to concentrate on his campaign.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.