COMMENTS: Surge from Obama & Huckabee

Oprah Winfrey's appearances over the weekend in support of Democrat Barack Obama were quite the thing. NBC anchor Brian Williams totaled up the crowds in Iowa. New Hampshire and South Carolina and offered a 60,000 estimate; ABC's David Wright (no link) found 65,000; CBS' Dean Reynolds heard "the cheers of some 70,000 rapturous fans." He went so far as to call Winfrey "the world's most famous woman"--which must come as a surprise to the Queen Elizabeth II of England. NBC's Lee Cowan called New Hampshire's event the "largest pre-primary crowd any candidate has ever had." Call it "Oprahbama…the OO…Oprahpalooza" the event was "a picture of momentum." ABC's Wright was skeptical, noting that Bruce Springsteen's 2004 endorsement for John Kerry before an 80,000 crowd "did not count for much." The Obama camp countered that they had a name, telephone number and e-mail address for everyone who attended--and in South Carolina two-thirds of the crowd had never communicated with the campaign before.

Both NBC and CBS had their Sunday morning anchors chime in on Mike Huckabee's success in Republican standings. Bob Schieffer of CBS' Face the Nation noted that Huckabee "sort of slipped in there" while Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney were "sparring and fighting." Huckabee "makes a good interview; he makes a good appearance on the campaign trail; he seems very real, very authentic; it is very hard not to like him." His problem? "He has to begin to raise some money." Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press felt Huckabee becoming "more than just an Iowa sensation--he is beginning to become a serious threat for the nomination." A slogan in his TV advertising has switched from Christian Leader to Proven Leader. Huckabee's rival Romney sat down with CBS anchor Katie Couric and repeated the Constitutional maxim: "No religious test should ever be required for qualification for office." He found it "unusual" that Huckabee was using the Christian slogan but was content that the former Governor of Arkansas would lose on his record: "Soft on criminals, soft on illegal aliens, but hard on taxpayers," as Romney dubbed him.


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