COMMENTS: Playing Nice in Palmetto

The South Carolina primary is known as the "gateway to the GOP nomination," NBC's Kelly O'Donnell announced, with its winner becoming the nominee in every cycle since 1980. With Mitt Romney concentrating on Nevada and Rudolph Giuliani on Florida, "it does seem to be down" to John McCain and Mike Huckabee, O'Donnell announced, consigning Fred Thompson to also-ran status and not even mentioning Ron Paul. She characterized McCain's platform as "cut government waste and keep the country safe" while Huckabee's focus is on "middle class economic anxiety." She gave them good marks for playing nice--they "have not been attacking one another." McCain's Website even sports this endorsement: "John McCain is a hero to this country. He is a hero to me." The soundbite is from Huckabee.

This approach by NBC--having a single correspondent summarize the positions of the main rivals--has been its standard technique so far this primary season. CBS, instead, features the wheel, a rapid succession of brief stand-ups from each reporter covering each major candidate. Thus we saw Chip Reid from the McCain camp, Nancy Cordes from Huckabee and Bill Whitaker from Romney.


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