Election Watch: Gibson Kicks It Off

Although ABC's official election coverage doesn't start until 9:30 p.m., (due to an extra long Dancing with the Stars. Hello?? Priorities!) Charles Gibson led the 6:30 p.m. newscast with election news. Gibson, very patriotic in a baby blue shirt with a red and white striped wide tie, welcomed viewers to what he said promised to be a "fascinating night." "Election day is always a great night for  democracy," he said, explaining that tonight we'd learn what the country really thinks about current events. He then welcomed his election-mate for the evening, ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos, who read off some early voter attitude data (ex. that 6 in 10 apparently disapprove of the job Bush is doing). Gibson then led viewers through a series of election-related stories - voting machines that didn't work, two close races, four states where Republicans were fighting "challenging" battles and then reminded viewers to tune in at 9:30 p.m. While Gibson exhibited the all-important, news anchor-appropriate levels of gravitas and aplomb, the 63-year-old seemed to be stifling the excitement of a schoolboy on the last night of summer vacation as he pointed out that he and Stephanopoulos would be there all evening on this all important news night. And no wonder - after maybe making it on camera two or three times an election night in years past, when he covered Congressional races in ABC News' Jennings days - this is his time to helm the e-night newscast. As the most senior - in years - of the three network anchors today, it will be interesting to see if Gibson's grandfatherly, veteran appeal will draw viewers to his newscast over those of NBC's Brian Williams or CBS's Katie Couric. Stay tuned for an update later tonight on how he's holding up.

By Anne Becker