The New York Times announced late Sunday night its endorsement for the presidency. For the first time, it bestowed its stamp of approval on two candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, both sitting senators who represent divergent strains in the Democratic Party.
The Times editorial board, noting that voters are faced with a choice among three very different visions in 2020, decried the incumbent, President Trump, as the choice who is leading the GOP into "white nativism at home and America First unilateralism abroad." Then, there are the Democrats who split between those who think Mr. Trump is "an aberration" and "a more sensible America" might still be possible, and those who see the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as representing a system that needs to be annihilated and replaced.
The editorial board spent over 12 hours interviewing the field. Its two endorsements appear to have more to do with the conditions of the country than the candidates they considered. The board said its history of endorsements leans toward the candidate "with a more traditional approach to pushing the nation forward, within the realities of a constitutional framework." But not now.
The board said that, given the events of the past few years, it wonders "whether our democratic system is fundamentally broken." It lamented the state of our elections, heightened partisanship, foreign misinformation campaigns, the rivers of cash in our politics and the disappearing American dream.
So, the board found itself torn between being "open to new ideas" and seeking stability. It wound up endorsing what it concluded were the best candidates for each approach: Warren and Klobuchar.
The board praised Warren for her rhetoric on how the economic system has failed working and poor Americans and her commitment to reforming government structures, and said she's demonstrated "a serious approach to policymaking that some of the other candidates lack."
The board was also impressed by her work in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and assessed that she possesses a "sophisticated understanding of the different levers of power in an administration."
The ed board expressed some doubts about her political instincts, which sometimes lapse into an "us-versus-them" view it said might be limited in a race against Mr. Trump, who has a competing notion of "them and us."
She blames business for too many of society's ills, the Times suggests, writing that "the country needs a more unifying path."
In a polarized environment, the Times board sees Klobuchar "as a standard-bearer for the Democratic center" and suggests "the best chance to enact many progressive plans could be under a Klobuchar administration."
The board admires her ability to speak with empathy about climate change, the shrinking middle class, guns and trade. And in her 13 years in the Senate, she has a foreign policy record that "shows that she is confident and thoughtful, and she reacts to data — what you'd want in a crisis."
However, the Times board voiced concerns over reports of how Senator Klobuchar treats her staff because of fears it could hamper her ability to hire talented staffers. Though "to be fair, Bill Clinton and Mr. Trump — not to mention former Vice President Biden — also have reputations for sometimes berating their staffs, and it is rarely mentioned as a political liability," the Times noted.