Sen. Edwards Talks with Reporters After Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press".
May 5, 2002.  Sen. Edwards' encountered sticky questioning from Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press," and pundits later gave his appearance mixed reviews.  Russert brought up the statement Edwards made at the Florida Democratic Conference several weeks earlier that having a 4,500 person peacekeeping force largely concentrated around Kabul is an "enormous mistake."  Asked what the United States should do, Edwards, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said we should "show leadership--go to our allies...ask them to increase the peacekeeping force not only in size but also in scope."  On the domestic front, Russert pressed Edwards to identify specific programs that he would cut or taxes that he would raise.  Edwards called for "fiscal discipline, fiscal responsibility;" he said opposes making the tax cut signed into law back in June 2001 permanent and he favors doing something to put off the tax cut for the richest Americans.  Russert pointed out that Edwards currently registers at 1 percent among possible presidential prospects, behind Rev. Al Sharpton.  Edwards responded, "I'm surprised it's that high."

According to Roll Call, this marked Edwards' fifth appearance on a Sunday news show in 2002 (he had two earlier appearances on CNN's "Late Edition" and two on "Fox News Sunday.")  By comparison, the reigning king of the Sunday shows at this time was Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) with nine appearances.

Around this time Edwards started to get quite a bit of coverage, some favorable and some unfavorable.  A photo of him at the Florida conference graced the cover of the April 29 issue US News & World Report, highlighting an article on "Who Can Beat Bush?"  As Edwards was speaking on "Meet the Press," newstands carried copies of The New Yorker magazine featuring a Nicholas Lemann article on him as "The Next Bill Clinton?"  A Christopher Hitchens piece headlined "Next Stop, The White House?" was shortly to appear in Vanity Fair

The "Meet the Press" appearance itself triggered several articles.  Columnist Robert Novak said Edwards had "shown himself unready for prime time" while Roll Call's Stuart Rothenberg opined that Edwards had "set the bar pretty low for himself."  On TNR Online, senior editor Jonathan Cohn explored Edwards' response to Russert's querying on taxes.

Roger Simon.  "Show Time!"  U.S. News & World Report.  April 29, 2002.

Nicholas Lemann.  "The Newcomer: A Democrat to Watch."  The New Yorker.  May 5, 2002. 

Christopher Hitchens.  "Next Stop, The White House?"  Vanity Fair.  June 2002. 

Robert Novak.  "Who'll Stop Gore in '04?"  Chicago Sun-Times, May 9, 2002.

Stuart Rothenberg.  "Golden Boy Edwards Needs to Do More Than Promise to Lead." Roll Call, May, 9, 2002.

Copyright © 2002  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.