On Hannity & Colmes, Luntz misrepresented Edwards comment about campaign finances

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

Referring to a video clip of John Edwards discussing campaign finances at an appearance in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Republican pollster Frank Luntz stated: "But the problem with Edwards is, whenever he brings up money, people remember how wealthy he is, and they have a hard time listening to him complain about other candidates spending money when he himself is worth dozens and dozens of millions of dollars." But Edwards did not "bring[] up money" during his appearance in Emmetsburg; rather, he was responding to a question about campaign finances from an attendee at the event.

On the January 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Alan Colmes aired a video clip of Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards' (NC) saying during a December 31 campaign appearance in Emmetsburg, Iowa: "We're not going to have an auction in Iowa; we're going to have an election. We're going to decide who the best candidate is, not who the person is that can make the most money." Colmes then asked his guest, Republican pollster Frank Luntz: "[Y]ou know how the whole thing works. Does Edwards have a point there? I mean, if he can really, you know, pop in Iowa, the money rolls in. He doesn't have to worry about it so much any more." Rather than answer Colmes' question, Luntz responded: "But the problem with Edwards is, whenever he brings up money, people remember how wealthy he is, and they have a hard time listening to him complain about other candidates spending money when he himself is worth dozens and dozens of millions of dollars," adding, "I just don't think the money argument plays for him." However, as video of the event posted on the FoxNews.com blog Embed Producers makes clear, Edwards did not "bring[] up money" during his appearance in Emmetsburg; rather, Edwards was responding to a question from an attendee at the event. Edwards paraphrased the attendee's question as: "What he's saying is he's hearing directly from the other campaigns, including Senator [Barack] Obama's wife ... that 'Well, Edwards, he may be a great candidate, but is he going to have enough money to be able to go on, and to be able to win?' "

From the video included in the Embed Producers blog entry, headlined "Edwards Rejects the Money Factor," and posted on January 1 at 12:34 a.m. ET:

EDWARDS: OK. Here. What he's saying is he's hearing directly from the other campaigns, including Senator Obama's wife --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah.

EDWARDS: -- that, "Well, Edwards, he may be a great candidate, but is he going to have enough money to be able to go on, and be able to win?" Well, let me -- can I say something first of all? We're not going to have an auction in Iowa; we're going to have an election. We're going to decide who the best candidate is, not who the person is that can raise the most money.

Do you understand -- let me just say this -- and you need to say this to people: Do you understand how frightening it is to a campaign and a bunch of campaign workers and a candidate that have raised $100 million to have somebody even with them?

At no time during the Hannity & Colmes segment was it made clear that Edwards' comment came in response to a question from the audience about campaign finances.

From the January 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

[begin video clip]

EDWARDS: We're not going to have an auction in Iowa; we're going to have an election. We're going to decide who the best candidate is, not who the person is that can raise the most money.

Do you understand -- let me just say this -- and you need to say this to people: Do you understand how frightening it is to a campaign and a bunch of campaign workers and a candidate that have raised $100 million to have somebody even with them?

[end video clip]

COLMES: Senator Edwards seems pretty confident about his cash and candidacy. We now continue with our panel: pollster Frank Luntz, Republican strategist Pete Snyder, and Fox News contributor Harold Ford Jr.

Frank Luntz, you know how the whole thing works. Edwards have a point there? I mean, if he can really, you know, pop in Iowa, the money rolls in. He doesn't have to worry about it so much any more.

LUNTZ: But the problem with Edwards, when he's talking about the anxious or the forgotten middle class, he scores well, and he won the last debate in Iowa, according to our Fox focus group. And we'll be doing more of that tomorrow night.

But the problem with Edwards is, whenever he brings up money, people remember how wealthy he is, and they have a hard time listening to him complain about other candidates spending money when he himself is worth dozens and dozens of millions of dollars. I just don't think the money argument plays for him.

COLMES: Harold Ford, do you agree with that assessment? Is that a bad move on the part of Edwards to mention money?

FORD: No, he probably needed to, only because, with all due respect to Frank's point, I think he needed to. He's raised far less money, but the thing that we've got to remember here, Edwards still polls high. This issue of middle class angst and anxiety is a real one and a serious one, even -- or notwithstanding what Edwards may bring personally to this campaign.

COLMES: Speaking of money, here's what the Politico is reporting. We'll put this up on the screen in terms of which party is doing better in terms of fundraising.

It says it "constitutes a widening in the already substantial financial advantage for Democrats. In the first nine months of this year, the top seven Democrats raised $223 million, while the top seven Republicans raised $144 million."

Pete Snyder, what does that tell you about where the country is in terms where they want to give their resources to who they want to see elected and running the country?

SNYDER: Well, Alan, look. I think it's very clear that the Republican Party has been in a funk for the past year or two. I mean, you know, when the president's polling in the 30s and you have Congress as unpopular as it is, even though it's run by Democrats now, it's not a great time to be a Republican.

Hopefully, we'll be a united party in the next couple weeks and months, we'll get a good -- a good nominee out there, and we'll go into battle in November.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Alan Colmes, Frank Luntz
Show/Publication
Hannity & Colmes
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, John Edwards, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.