Just over a week before the primaries are set to begin with the Iowa caucus, the Des Moines Register’s editorial board announced their influential endorsements for the Democratic and Republican nomination. On Saturday evening, Jan. 23, 2016, Iowa’s biggest paper the Des Moines Register endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the Republican side. Neither candidate is leading their party’s polls before the caucus. The endorsements are meant to bolster their chances of winning come Feb. 1.
In their endorsement, the editorial board praised Clinton, but also expressed the drawbacks to her candidacy. The board called Clinton the most knowledgeable and experienced candidate, “Democrats have one outstanding candidate deserving of their support: Hillary Clinton. No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.”
The Register also commended Clinton’s handling of her evolving views on the issues, “Her changing stance on gay marriage, immigration and other issues has invited accusations that she is guided less by personal conviction than by political calculations. She refutes that, and argues persuasively that a willingness to change one’s thinking on specific issues, while remaining true to what she calls ‘the same values and principles,’ is a virtue, one lacking in most politicians.”
The board, however, admitted her scandal with her private email server she used during her tenure at the State Department is a problem, “She is not a perfect candidate, as evidenced the way she has handled the furor over her private email server.”
For their endorsement of Rubio, the board praised the Florida senator, for his campaign positive message amid the GOP candidates’ negativity and fear mongering. The board expressed, “Sen. Marco Rubio has the potential to chart a new direction for the party, and perhaps the nation, with his message of restoring the American dream. We endorse him because he represents his party’s best hope.”
They did recognize his lack of experience, and his recent problematic Senate attendance and voting record, “Yes, we wish the first-term senator had greater experience. Yes, we wish he followed the lead of colleague Chuck Grassley and rarely missed a vote in the Senate.” The Register also questioned how Rubio with deal with entitlements, an Obamacare alternative, and climate change. The board worried Rubio will go down his party’s path of negativity, and wrote, “We hope Marco Rubio and his party take a different path, one that can lead to the opportunity and optimism he so eloquently articulates.”
Both candidates gave responses to their endorsements at Iowa campaign events. Rubio said to voters, “Would rather have your endorsement. Still need you to caucus for me.” While Clinton said, she was “very pleased” and “Obviously, it means a lot to me.” Clinton also expressed her gratitude in a tweet, “I’ll work my heart out for Iowans and American families every day. Honored to have the @DMRegister’s support-9 days to the caucus! -H”
Meanwhile, Democrat and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and his campaign found a way to spin not being endorsed into a positive. Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver commented, “The person who didn’t get the endorsement last time, eight years ago, won. So I am not sure what the significance is.” Nevertheless, “We would have loved to have the endorsement, obviously.”
The Iowa paper has a mixed legacy about determining the winner of both the caucus and nomination. The paper has never chosen a Democratic nominee that has gone on to win the caucus or the nomination. This is the second time the Register endorsed Clinton, they did so in 2008, when she lost the caucus and the nomination to Barack Obama. The Register has had better luck with Republicans correctly choosing every GOP nominee since 1996; however, they have not been on the mark when it came to the GOP winner of the caucus in the last election cycles.
Currently, Clinton is behind Sanders in the polls in Iowa but leads him nationally. Rubio is in third place in all polls in Iowa and nationally, placing behind GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Just this past week Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad spoke to the press at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona giving a message to Iowa voters that have to defeat Cruz in the caucuses because the GOP candidate is against the “federal renewable fuel mandate.” The Des Moines Register has had a campaign long feud with Trump. The editorial board interviewed all the candidates twice, with the exception of Trump and Cruz.