December 16th, 2007
11:26 AM ET
12 years ago

Rejected candidates react to paper’s picks

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic and Republican candidates stunned by the Des Moines Register’s presidential picks reacted with polite resignation Sunday.

The Iowa paper’s editorial board announced this weekend that it was backing Hillary Clinton and John McCain in their respective parties’ presidential runs.

The state’s largest and most influential daily made the announcement with less than three weeks to go before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The paper’s endorsement of John Edwards during his 2004 presidential run was followed by his surprisingly strong showing in the Democratic caucuses that year, but Sunday the editorial board said it “too seldom saw the 'positive, optimistic' campaign we found appealing” during the last campaign. “His harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change."

Edwards disputed the assessment Sunday. "… I'm as positive as I have ever been,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, chalking up the board’s decision to a “fundamental disagreement” on economic policy.

"They seem to believe that you can forge big change in this country by working with oil companies, gas companies, power companies, insurance companies, drug companies," the North Carolina trial attorney said. Clinton, he added, “defends the system,” though he congratulated her for the paper’s nod.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are all in a tight fight for the lead in most recent state polls of registered Democratic voters.

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden also congratulated Clinton on CNN’s Late Edition, calling the endorsement “a great coup” for the New York senator. "They had me back there twice. In the editorial, they mentioned I was qualified to be president, but they chose Hillary over me. I can't complain about that.”

Republican candidate Mike Huckabee said he “would have loved to have had” the endorsement, but that he did not think it would not have a major impact on the final vote.

The former Arkansas governor congratulated his rival, saying he had “nothing but utmost respect for John McCain, I think he's one of the most honorable individuals in this nation. … You won't ever hear me saying something unkind or untoward toward this person who I believe to be a great American hero.”

As the Republican race has grown more brutal in recent weeks, the two presidential contenders have refrained from taking shots at each other. The former Arkansas governor is currently leading most recent polls of GOP voters in the Hawkeye State, while John McCain has largely dropped from contention, generally registering single-digit support.

“It would have been disingenuous for me to sit here and say it, oh, doesn't mean anything,” said Huckabee of the paper’s decision. “But on the other hand I believe when the people of Iowa make a decision about who they'll support, I believe it will be me.”

–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Iowa
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Julie Overvig Medford,Oregon

    Paper made a mistake, Biden not Hillary is the candidate who is the most qualified and most important, the only one that can unite this country once again and bring our troops home with a actual plan.

    December 16, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. AJ, Ames, IOWA

    Nobody really cares who the Des Moines Register endorses. If you have to rely on a newspaper to decide, please stay home.

    December 16, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  3. Michael M., Haddonfield, NJ

    The Des Moines Register got it wrong on which candidate supports the economic and agricultural interests of the state's votes; that would be Edwards, not Clinton.

    December 16, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. Karen, Des Moines, Iowa

    Today's Des Moines Register is not the paper it used to be. It's editorial policy is unfocussed; its columnists are over the hill, actually a couple of hills. There are no big investigative reporters in Washington like Clark Mullenhoff; no Pulitzers anywhere on the horizon. It is just sad. The endorsement is too late and too weak to do anyone any good or harm.

    December 17, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  5. Jacob, Chattanooga, TN

    On Sunday, 12/16/07, Ron Paul broke campaign fundraising records set by two prominent Democrats - surpassing John Kerry's 2004 record of 5.7 million, as well as Hillary Clinton's [disputed] record of 6.2 million in a single day. If the GOP wises up, they will realize Ron Paul's viability against the Democrats - or , more importantly, his superiority to the hollow, pre-packaged choices being offered by both parties. The GOP may just have to view Dr. Paul as a "necessary evil". That's what I have had to do with my vote for the last eight years.


    December 17, 2007 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  6. Chance Fresno, CA

    Big business owns those think there gonna pick my guy Edwards? lol.

    December 17, 2007 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  7. Jack Boston, M

    A link for info on college kids being able to caucus in Iowa even though they don't actually permanently live there.

    No offense to the good people of Iowa but I would be more than a little pissed that out-of-state students might determine the winner of my state!!

    The residency requirements sound pretty broad except that you can't be staying in the Campaign Headquarters.

    Is the Obama Camp really talking about paying each student $20 in addition to bussing them in??

    Again no offense to your state, but maybe it's time to revamp the residency requirements to caucus.

    Time will only tell if the students will be willing to come back early from Winter Break even with the offer of $20??

    December 17, 2007 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  8. Mark NH

    Recently free ride for Obama from political press corps, and it feels besieged as it has to bat away incessant questions with Obama's significant shifts, flip flopping on issues such as Patriot Act, Defense of Marriage Act, Fast Track trade authority and benefits for same-sex couples. Given how little experience Obama has, its understandable that his campaign doesnt want any kind of focus on his record, These stories clearly raise questions about Obamas electability and serve as a stark reminder about how little the public knows about his positions. The Illinois chapter of the National Organization for Women, Obama said he would vote to repeal the Patriot Act. In 2006 Obama voted for the redrafted version of the Patriot Act that some critics contended made only minor changes to the original law. On Defense of Marriage Act Obama answered No,to the question: "Do you support repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. On Fast Track authority, which requires Congress to vote yes or no and without amendments on pending trade deals, Obama opposes Fast Track authority because it is a usurpation of Congress' role to ensure that negotiated trade agreements serve the best interests of our country, including protection of the environment, worker rights and human rights.In remarks to the Detroit Economic Club in May, Obama said, I plan to be president, so I actually want Fast Track. But I'm willing to constrain myself in Fast Track to make sure that we’ve got strong labor and environmental protections.On benefits for same-sex couples, Obama said, he would need to evaluate the fiscal impact of extending Social Security benefits to same-sex couples that married couples currently receive. Also Barack Obama (D-IL)involved in a suspicious real estate deal with an indicted political fundraiser, Antoin Tony Rezko. Obama also linked to an alleged influence peddling scandal and was nabbed conducting campaign business in his Senate office, a violation of federal law.

    December 17, 2007 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  9. Ann ME

    Hillary had to beg on bended knee for that backing. They were so disgusted by her arrogance they walked out on her.

    December 17, 2007 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  10. Surrealist, Fort Myers, Fl

    And that, ladies and gentlemen–is why we have the electorate! If we left these kind of things to the press and the snap polls–we'd be in very big trouble!!!

    December 17, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Jen, des moine, iowa

    As in the past few months, john edwards talks like a big loser.

    December 17, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Diane, NYC, NY

    It's interesting that they endorsed Clinton and McCain, especially considering that McCain is the one Republican who regularly beats Clinton in the head-to-head polls...think there's a hidden message there?

    December 18, 2007 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  13. Josh Big Sur, CA

    "Whether you are an out of state college student or not, getting back to caucus could prove challenging if your dorm is closed or your have to change your travel plans.

    Don’t let this deter you from exercising your right to participate in the caucus.

    ...a group dedicated to helping Democrats win with the 18-35 year old vote, is providing gas for carpools and money for hotel rooms. You must be a student attending school in Iowa and you must be going to the caucus as a participant."


    December 18, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. Beth Chicago, IL - HILLARY '08

    YAY HILLARY '08 🙂

    December 18, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |