Iowa and N.H. endorsements: Who’s in whose corner?
By NBP Staff | January 27, 2016, 13:07 EST
Political endorsements don’t win elections. But they can certainly help at the margins. The support of a well-respected newspaper or a local party leader can provide a candidate much needed credibility or help burnish particular credentials. In this election year, however, where everyone seems to be running from the term “establishment,” some endorsements might even hurt.
So who has endorsed whom in 2016?
Below are the latest presidential endorsements relevant to Iowa’s upcoming caucuses on Feb. 1 and New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation primary on Feb. 9.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) received an important “non-endorsement / endorsement” this week from Iowa’s popular Republican senator Joni Ernst. Ernst, a darling of the Tea party movement, says she is not endorsing anyone for president but, nevertheless, appeared on stage Monday with her “good friend” Rubio. Ernst, an Iraq war veteran, said Rubio “knows what it is to keep our country safe from the threats that are out there,” and called him “near and dear to my heart.” Ernst’s support helps burnish Rubio’s Tea Party creds in the Hawkeye state.
Rubio also scored the endorsement of Iowa’s biggest paper, The Des Moines Register, just nine days before Iowa’s Feb. 1 presidential caucuses. The Iowa paper said it chose Rubio because of the freshman senator’s unique ability to both “welcome new people to the party” and “inspire the base with his ideas on improving the economy, education system and social programs.”
Rubio, the editors of the Register wrote, has “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.”
Rubio expressed gratitude for the endorsement, but downplayed it by saying the paper’s backing doesn’t make him the pick of the GOP establishment.
The Souix City Journal also endorsed Rubio.
Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton won The Des Moines Register’s endorsement on the Democratic side, primarily because of her experience on the world stage
“No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience,” the paper said of the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Still, the paper noted, Clinton “is not a perfect candidate, as evidenced the way she has handled the furor over her private e-mail server” as secretary of state.
The Souix City Journal also endorsed Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
The most well-reported Iowa-related endorsement came not from any Iowa newspaper or politician but from the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Palin, the former Republican Vice Presidential nominee remains popular among Iowa’s evangelicals and tea party activists, who comprise a significant proportion of Iowa’s Republican caucus-goers. Palin endorsed New York real estate mogul Donald Trump. In announcing her support for the Donald, Palin remarked, “We’re talking about no more Reaganesque power that comes from strength. Power through strength.” Hmmmm.
The Globe’s reasoning? Kasich is “a pragmatic, fiscally responsible executive” who is also “collegial and willing to compromise.”
The paper’s 2012 Huntsman endorsement was widely regarded as a slap in the face to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who wore the Globe’s snub as a badge of honor when campaigning among conservatives.
Whether the Globe 2016 endorsement helps or hurts Kasich in New Hampshire remains to be seen.
Both the Manchester, N.H. Union Leader and the Boston Herald have endorsed New Jersey governor Chris Christie as the best choice for Republicans.
The Union Leader chose Christie early on, arguing that Christie’s experience as a former federal prosecutor and as governor of a blue state make him “the one candidate who has the range and type of experience the nation desperately needs.”
“We don’t need another fast-talking, well-meaning freshman U.S. senator trying to run the government,” the paper opined in a not-so-veiled attack on first term senators Rubio and Ted Cruz (R-Tx).
“We are still seeing the disastrous effects of the last such choice.”
But, the Union Leader editorial board wrote, perhaps the best the reason to support Christie is “because he tells it like it is and isn’t shy about it.”
Editors at the Boston Herald agree. “[T]here is just something about that Jersey guy attitude,” they wrote on Tuesday, “feisty but not mean-spirited, tough but not hateful — that has a shot at taking an angry electorate and helping it find a focus and a purpose.”
New Hampshire’s Republican senator Kelly Ayotte has yet to endorse a candidate, but is close with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who recently dropped out of the race and is now supporting Jeb Bush. Ayotte has her own ties to Bush, who has helped the New Hampshire Republican raise money for her re-election campaign, as well as to Rubio, whose SuperPAC released an advertisement on her behalf.
One candidate Ayotte won’t be endorsing? John Kasich, whom she recently criticized for his support of the federal shipyard closing process, which may impact the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
With only two weeks left until the New Hampshire primary, Ayotte, if she is to endorse at all, will have to decide soon. Watch for her to announce a decision after Iowa results are in. By then she should have a better sense of which of the two (Bush or Rubio) are actually viable.
The Boston Globe endorsed Hillary Clinton as the best choice for New Hampshire Democrats (and they no doubt will endorse her for the whole enchilada come November). The paper, which backed Obama in 2008, wrote last week that Clinton is today “more seasoned, more grounded, and more forward-looking than in 2008, and has added four years as secretary of state to her already formidable resume.”
In making their selection, Globe editors didn’t miss a chance to slam Clinton’s rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for not “leveling with voters about the cost and disruption” that many of his policy proposals would cost. The Globe said Clinton will be better “temperamentally” at actually getting things done.
Clinton has also picked up key Democratic endorsements from New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Connecticut’s governor Dan Malloy and senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have endorsed Clinton, as have Rhode Island’s governor Gina Raimondo and R.I.’s senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
In Massachusetts, Sen. Ed Markey has endorsed Clinton, but, notably, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has remained silent.