Republican Rudy vs. Democrat Richardson: Not Even Close

Democrat Bill Richardson vs. Republican Rudy Giuliani? In the battle for more positive coverage on page A17 of Friday's Times, it wasn't even close.

The headlines and text boxes captured the tone of each story. Here's the headline for Ralph Blumenthal and Dan Frosch's story on Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico: "Running on a Resume Both Local and National." The text box read: "Exuberant and experienced, Bill Richardson exudes optimism."

And here's the headline from Richard Perez-Pena's "Political Memo," immediately below the Richardson story in Friday's hard copy: "Stepping to the Plate, Giuliani Is Seeing Only Softballs." The text box read: "Now running for president, a former mayor is sticking to comfortable issues."

If the sunny tone of the Richardson piece, compared to the frosty tone of the Giuliani piece, can't be gleaned from that, the text validates the impression. While the Richardson piece brought up some criticisms of the governor, the emphasis was on what he'd done for the state of New Mexico over the past four years:

"Under Mr. Richardson, New Mexico, long ranked near the bottom of almost every social index, has made advances. With his pressing for higher wages for educators, teachers' salaries have moved from 46th in the nation in 2000 to 39th in 2006, the highest since the mid-'80s, the National Education Association says.

"Since Mr. Richardson took office, unemployment is down, to 3.8 percent from 5.8 percent, according to the federal Labor Department. New Mexico is 10th in economic growth, according to a report by the Federal Funds Information Service for States, affiliated with the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislators.

"Mr. Richardson has also pushed hard to make New Mexico, with its dust-swept mesas and high-desert peaks, a choice location for Hollywood. According to the New Mexico Film Office, more than 60 movies and television programs have been shot here since he became governor.

"And he positioned New Mexico for the private space age by carving a spaceport out of the desert alongside the White Sands Missile Range."

New York City also improved markedly in many categories under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, especially crime rates. And then of course, there was 9-11. But Perez-Pena didn't bring up Giuliani's mayoralty, except for a brief, snotty part near the end, noting "it is Giuliani's reputation as the icon of Sept. 11. that has shielded him during his early campaigning."