Freda Black and Keith Bishop, Nifong's challengers in the May 2 primary, have not criticized Nifong on his handling of the case.

Bishop said it was striking to see Nifong so much on television. "But again right now, he's supposed to be in the driver's seat showing leadership on this issue. ... Those of us who are candidates must defer," he said.

In response to questions about the rape investigation and its effect on the campaign, Bishop and Black were careful to say they do not have the facts on the case.

Black's campaign declined to comment.

"If my campaign is successful, I may end up handling this case, and I don't want to jeopardize my ability to do so effectively and fairly by commenting without all the facts in hand," she said in a written statement.