The Des Moines Register, a highly influential newspaper in the Hawkeye State, has announced its endorsements for the 2016 presidential election, nine days before the state goes to vote in the caucus. On the Republican side, the paper endorsed Senator Marco Rubio and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was endorsed on the Democratic side.
Of Rubio the paper wrote, “We endorse him because he represents his party’s best hope.” The editorial board described him as a optimistic leader and “whip-smart.” However, the board also writes that “Yet more recently, he has pandered to rising pessimism in his party.”
The paper endorsed Clinton for the Democratic Iowa caucus, eight years after it first endorsed her. They wrote, “No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.” However, the paper criticized the former Secretary of State for not owning up to mistakes that she makes. “That appears to be a lesson she has yet to fully embrace.”
Of the other two candidates in the Democratic primary, the paper finds Senator Bernie Sanders “to be a man of courage and principle who has the ability to rally others to his cause.” The paper largely dismisses former Governor Martin O’Malley, saying “he seems better suited to a Cabinet-level job in a Clinton White House.” The paper also concludes that the caucus is a choice between Sanders and Clinton for Democrats.
The paper has not had a successful track record in the past for the caucus. In 2012, it endorsed former Governor Mitt Romney, who lost to former Senator Rick Santorum on the Republican side. In 2008, it endorsed Clinton and Senator John McCain, who lost to then-Senator Barack Obama and former Governor Mike Huckabee, respectively. In 2004, former Senator John Edwards was endorsed on the Democratic side and then-Senator John Kerry won. In 2000, the paper endorsed Senator Bill Bradley on the Democratic side and Vice President Al Gore won the caucus. However, the paper endorsed then-Governor George W. Bush on the Republican side who won the caucus.
With less than ten days until the Iowa caucus, Clinton is in an tight fight against Sanders for the Democratic nod. Polls show a decreasing lead for Clinton and Sanders could benefit from enthusiastic supporters on his behalf at the caucus. On the Republican side, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz are leading the pack. Neither of the state frontrunners met with the paper for an interview, but the paper said that that did not factor into their endorsement decision.