Vieira and Russert Play Up Rudy's Crime Connections, While Edwards Bonds With America

MRC's Matthew Balan discovered on Friday's "Today" that the latest conventional wisdom among the liberal news manufacturers at NBC is that Rudy Giuliani's struggling under a wave of forthcoming media frenzies, while John Edwards has made an Elmer's Glue bond with the American people with his "60 Minutes" interview with his wife about her cancer. First, the decline and fall of Rudy:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: “I want to switch gears here, Tim, and talk about the 2008 campaign. Two candidates, in particular making news this week, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards. Let's start with Rudy Giuliani, if we can. Reports today, that when he was mayor of New York City, he knew that Bernard Kerik had a relationship with a company suspected of ties with organized crime, or to organized crime, before he appointed him as New York City police commissioner. He also said in an interview that if he is elected to the White House, he could see his wife Judith having a role in Cabinet meetings. How would assess his campaign at the end of this week? Headed in the right direction?”

TIM RUSSERT: “Well, it's interesting. Mayor Giuliani's campaign had been doing quite well in the polls. Over the last month, however, according to USA Today, he’s dropped some 13 points. The thinking is more conservative Republicans scrutinize his record and stories like the one you mentioned. There is no doubt that the mayor's conduct on September 11th won him lots of friends across the country, but other aspects of his being ‘mayorality’ will be scrutinized as will his private enterprise and private sector involvement. One of his clients in his law firm after he left happened to be the government of Venezuela - Hugo Chavez and Citgo Oil. That will receive a lot of scrutiny. So, there are some bumps ahead for all of the candidates, including Rudy Giuliani.

Then, when the subject turned to Edwards, America has bonded with the Silky Pony, and nobody asked about his record or his mansion or anything controversial any more:

VIEIRA: “How about John Edwards? After he announced that he is staying in this race, despite the fact that his wife Elizabeth's cancer has returned, his numbers actually went up, according to a Time magazine poll, up 9 points. Are you surprised by that?”

RUSSERT: “Well, Meredith, the amount of coverage that received and the way the Edwards conducted themselves at that news conference and subsequent interviews clearly has resonated with the American people. There has been a debate, a discussion, as to whether or not it's appropriate for him to continue to campaign for the presidency. Americans seem to have concluded that it's a decision made that couple. Some of his opponents have accused him of exploiting this issue. But right now, it appears that the American people have said, ‘We have heard you and we listened to you and we, in large part agree with your decision. We are taking a new and interesting look at your candidacy.’”

VIEIRA: “Do you think the numbers are up, Tim, because some people might read that as a sympathy vote for him? Others might say that they saw an Edwards that day, the qualities they would like in the president?”

RUSSERT: “I think a little bit of both. People realize that this is very difficult for a family, particularly a family that’s already had to withstand the death of a 16-year-old son. But also again, the way they conducted themselves at the news conference, I do think, created a bond with the viewing public. You know, it's rare to see a politician out of the setting of answering political questions, and this was real human life - real life and death situation. Everyone has been affected by cancer.”

VIEIRA: “Tim Russert, as always, thanks.”

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