MEDIA: With Giuliani out, Lazio grabs the media’s attention

When New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani announced he would not run for the US Senate, Long Island congressman Rick Lazio wasted no time.

When New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani announced he would not run for the US Senate, Long Island congressman Rick Lazio wasted no time.

When New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani announced he would not run

for the US Senate, Long Island congressman Rick Lazio wasted no

time.



Rep. Lazio entered the race for the Senate seat, for which he will

quickly have to battle first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Although

Giuliani’s exit signaled the end of one of the most anticipated

political showdowns of this campaign season, the media did not appear to

spend too much time focusing on the mayor’s plans following his

decision. Instead, the media quickly focused on who would replace

Giuliani as the Republican candidate for the New York Senate seat.



What did the media have to say regarding the sudden candidacy of

Rep.



Lazio? CARMA International reviewed news reports from the first few days

of his candidacy to find the answer. The manner in which Lazio began his

campaign earned him much praise, with the media noting that the campaign

was off to a good start. As early as Monday, May 22, The New York Times

published an editorial that said, ’Representative Rick Lazio has gotten

off to an energetic start in his race for the Senate.’



The media also provided frequent coverage of Rep. Lazio’s voting record,

which was most often described as moderate. US News & World Report

wrote, ’With his ethnic roots and suburban background, his moderate

voting record, and pro-abortion position, he has a near ideal profile

for a statewide Republican candidate in New York.’(May 29, 2000)



There was also coverage, however, that took a distinctly different view

of Rep. Lazio’s voting record, although these reports appeared less

frequently.



Supporters of Clinton’s campaign often described Lazio as a Newt

Gingrich clone in an effort to paint him as a member of the far right.

Newsweek (May 29) quoted Clinton aide Harold Ickes as saying, ’All too

often Rick Lazio was doing the work of Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey and

the rest of the radical Republican leadership.’



The media often referred to Lazio as an unknown. Both depictions of

Lazio’s voting record were attempts to fill in the blanks for the public

about his background.



Perhaps the most favorable coverage for Lazio was suggestions that he

would be a formidable candidate. Time (May 29) reported that Clinton

might find Lazio ’a tougher opponent than Rudy would have been.’

Elsewhere, the Congressman was described as a telegenic family man who

is eager to campaign and lacks the baggage that the abrasive Giuliani

had. Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told CBS (May 22) that ’Rick

Lazio could, in fact, be Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare.’



Despite that possibility, the media noted that Lazio was an underdog in

the polls, with Clinton leading by about 14 points at the time the Long

Island congressman announced his candidacy, with 17% undecided. However,

analysts expected Lazio to improve on those numbers significantly as his

campaign gained steam, possibly even being head-to-head with Clinton in

the polls by the time this column is published.



Lazio’s campaign appears to be off to a quick start and there are

favorable expectations. But as Giuliani’s exit illustrated, things can

change quickly.



The New York Senate race remains one to watch.





Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found

at www.carma.com.



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