In a Saturday editorial, the New York Times threw their weight behind Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich -- but you might never know it if you had only skimmed its first paragraphs.
That's because the newspaper of record devoted its opening lines to lambasting the rest of the Republican field, with front-runners Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz featuring prominently in the attacks. Kasich's name, in contrast, first appears in the sixth paragraph of the editorial.
"The battle to be the Republican choice for president has been nasty, brutish and anything but short," the Times began, before going on to blast Trump and Cruz as "equally objectionable for different reasons."
"Mr. Trump has neither experience in nor interest in learning about national security, defense or global trade," the editorial board penned. "From deporting Mexican immigrants and barring Muslims to slapping a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports, Mr. Trump invents his positions as he goes along."
Of Cruz, the Times labeled his campaign one of "ambition," rather than "constitutional principles."
"Whether he's threatening to 'carpet bomb' Syrian villages or pitching a phony 'flat tax' that would batter middle-class consumers, Mr. Cruz will say anything to win," the editorial said. "The greater worry is that he'd follow words with action."
The Kasich endorsement went on to slap at the wrists of other GOP candidates trailing behind in the polls: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has "failed to ignite much support"; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has "forgotten his more positive 'New American Century' campaign" in favor of "embracing the alarmist views" of his opponents; and Ben Carson has shown a remarkable "inability to grasp the world."
The Times didn't even name Kasich in the editorial's headline, instead titling it an anodyne "Chance to Reset the Republican Race."
The Times spent just a scant few paragraphs enumerating the White House qualifications of the Ohio governor, who the paper acknowledged was a "distinct underdog."
The Times named Kasich a chief executive with conservative bona fides -- a man who has "gone after public-sector unions" and limited abortion and same-sex marriage rights, but is also given to compromise in the face of partisan fights.
The paper praised Kasich's position on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigration, as well as his $13 billion expansion of Medicaid in Ohio.
"For Republicans tired of the extremism and inexperience on display in this race," the editorial board wrote, Kasich was "the only plausible choice."
During a Fox News interview Saturday, Kasich called the Times nod "fantastic."
"It's just really awesome," he said. "You want to have everybody for you. I think that what works for me is I've proven that I can attract voters across the board."
In the GOP primary season, however, the Times endorsement may be a mixed blessing for Kasich, entrenching him further as an "establishment" candidate when Republican voters are trending towards contenders that are anything but.
In the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll released earlier this week, Trump leads among voters in Iowa -- where the nation's first nominating contest will be held in just two days -- because of his ability to "shake up the system."
In a separate editorial, the Times also gave their endorsement to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: the "right choice for the Democrats to present a vision for America that is radically different from the one that leading Republican candidates offer."
The paper focused largely on Clinton's foreign policy experience and specifically applauded her economic platform.
"Her lifelong fight for women bolsters her credibility in this area, since so many of the problems with labor law hit women the hardest, including those involving child care, paid sick leave, unstable schedules and low wages for tipped workers," the Times wrote.
The editorial board questioned her "hawkish" stance on the use of military might in conflicts abroad, but still put their faith in Clinton to "use American military power effectively."
The endorsement also drew differences between Clinton and her rival Bernie Sanders on gun control, naming the former secretary a "strong advocate of sensible and effective measures to combat the plague of firearms." Sanders' record, meanwhile, was "relatively weak," according to the Times.
Sanders was also slammed for for lacking the "breadth of experience or policy ideas" compared to Clinton. Of the Vermont senator's boldest proposals to tackle the financial sector and to reinvent the health care system with a single-payer alternative, the editorial board said "his plans for achieving them aren't realistic."
The newspaper backed Clinton in the 2008 presidential election and endorsed her twice during her two New York races for the U.S. Senate.