COMMENTS: Muddled & Fluid

The Republican race was treated as more newsworthy: CBS and NBC filed a report on John McCain's rebound in New Hampshire to match ABC's lead by Terry Moran (no link) yesterday; CBS looked at Mike Huckabee; and ABC picked Rudolph Giuliani. CBS' Bob Schieffer even took a moment to speculate about Ron Paul and his $24m warchest: "He is going to take votes away from somebody…but at this point you cannot find anybody who can tell you who he is going to hurt."

Why is McCain on the advance once more after his "political near death experience," as NBC Kelly O'Donnell put it? She cited "a bundle of unexpected endorsements" and "his biggest advantage now--the muddled Republican field. No clear leader means McCain gets another shot to revive his chances." On CBS, Jeff Greenfield agreed about the endorsements--"the conservative Manchester Union Leader and the liberal Boston Globe, a first-time feat"--and also mentioned his debating style. McCain himself gave credit to Gen David Petraeus, whose tactics in Iraq McCain had championed: "I do not think my candidacy could have been revived if the Petraeus strategy failed."

CBS' Nancy Cordes followed Huckabee as he went "crisscrossing Texas, campaigning not for votes but for money." The size of Huckabee's campaign staff has "suddenly doubled" and he needs funds to "buy the ads that will help him raise awareness." The latest GOP fundraising statistics had Mitt Romney at $63m, Rudolph Giuliani at $47m and Huckabee at $2m. As for Giuliani, ABC's Jake Tapper found him "trying to rewrite the rules of nomination politics" by skipping the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina to concentrate on the 20 states holding primaries on February 5th. Tapper called Giuliani "noticeably absent" having "marginalized himself from the conversation." Tapper's conclusion was that "Giuliani is counting on no single opponent getting any momentum from early victories. With a Republican race this fluid that is a possibility--but it has never happened before."


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