COMMENTS: C is for Campaign

After taking time off last week for a press conference on his wife's ill health, the Presidential campaign of Democrat John Edwards received a payoff of maximum attention upon its resumption. The couple held the primetime spotlight on Sunday night, granting a 60 Minutes interview to CBS' Katie Couric. The return of cancer patient Elizabeth to the hustings was the Story of the Day as all three networks sent a female reporter to cover her. Edwards did not lead any of the newscasts, however. All three chose the latest research about heart disease as their top item.

CBS' Couric replayed several soundbites from her interview--"Here you are staring at possible death." "Aren't we all, though?"--before introducing Sharyn Alfonsi's report from Cleveland: "She has not stopped or even slowed down." In five days, Edwards logged 6,600 miles and spoke in four cities. NBC's Janet Shamlian also aired a clip from 60 Minutes--"It is our intention to deny cancer any control over us"--to illustrate "a national discussion on illness, ambition and priorities." The Edwards Campaign recorded 12,000 supportive e-mails in the last four days. ABC's Barbara Pinto observed that Elizabeth received "even more media attention" than her husband. "There were doubters in the crowd who did not think Edwards should remain in the race--until they heard his wife."

As the reporting deadline for first quarter campaign fundraising looms, CBS' Alfonsi mentioned what she called "the rub…Will Democrats open their wallets for a candidate who may need to call it quits to care for his wife?" Couric replayed her own question about whether the disease helps or hurts the Edwards Campaign. "I have no idea," the former senator replied.


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