The New York Times editorial board endorsed Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) in the race for the Democratic presidential primary after interviewing the top nine contenders on issues that are most important to voters in this heated election year.
It was a perplexing endorsement, since the two senators are running on significantly divergent platforms. Warren is one of the most progressive candidates in the race, while Klobuchar is a moderate.
“Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it,” the Times’ Editorial Board wrote on Sunday night. “That’s why we’re endorsing the most effective advocates for each approach.”
The boost for the pair of senators comes two weeks before the Feb. 3 caucuses in Iowa, the first state to vote on who they want to elect as president in November.
Over the past year, Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have topped the polls in the race for the Democratic nomination, with Biden maintaining a slight lead over the other two. Klobuchar has struggled to stay in the pack and has not broken into the top tier of Democratic candidates.
The results of the Iowa caucuses typically, but not always, affect which candidate goes on to win the party’s nomination for president. Candidates who fail to gain a solid number of votes in this caucus often drop out afterward.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the Iowa caucuses as the Democratic presidential nominee while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas topped the ticket for the Republican Party. Both ended up losing to Donald Trump.
This time four years ago, the Times endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary. She ended up winning the popular vote but lost the election to Trump. The newspaper has endorsed a Democrat in the last 15 presidential elections.
Warren called for “big structural change” to government and tackling corruption in business and politics, which the Times pointed out was in line with a “polished script” she’s delivered often, during her interview with the editorial board in early December.
“She famously has ‘a plan for that’ and had a (lengthy) answer for nearly every question,” the board said when it published its transcript of the senator’s interview.
However, the board noted that Warren was “caught off guard” when asked about how to protect American nuclear weapons in Turkey and about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Klobuchar drew praise from the Times, who called her a “standard-bearer for the Democratic center,” saying many progressive proposals could have their best chance under her administration.
“The senator from Minnesota is the very definition of Midwestern charisma, grit and sticktoitiveness,” the board wrote. “Her lengthy tenure in the Senate and bipartisan credentials would make her a deal maker (a real one) and uniter for the wings of the party — and perhaps the nation.”
The Editorial Board did note its concern with reports that Klobuchar has mistreated her staff in the past, saying the news articles “raise serious questions about her ability to attract and hire talented people.” But the group said she had pledged to do better and that, despite her struggles with national popularity, “it’s far too early to count Ms. Klobuchar out.”
The Editorial Board defended its decision to buck tradition with its dual endorsement, saying the pair were “the Democrats best equipped to lead.”
“There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives,” the board wrote. “But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in 2016, and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth.”
“May the best woman win.”
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect how often the New York Times endorsed Democrats in recent elections.