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Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton Pick Up Endorsements From Iowa Newspaper


Let's turn now to politics. Just a few minutes ago, the Des Moines Register made its endorsements in the presidential race. The paper has been endorsing candidates in both major political parties in advance of the caucuses since 1988. The caucuses are a little more than a week away - important to note that the picks are recommendations, not predictions, and they don't always point to winners. But they are attention-getting. What's different this year is that not being picked by an establishment paper might be a better talking point on the campaign trail. NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro is with us.

So Domenico, don't leave us in suspense. Who did the paper endorse?

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Well, for the second cycle in a row, the paper went with Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Marco Rubio, this time, on the Republican side. Rubio's been polling around third in the state, and third, frankly, would be a coup for him. He'd be getting what's called one of the tickets out of Iowa. They said that he has the potential to chart a new direction for the party and, quote, "represents the party's best hope," which is interesting.

On Clinton - said that she's the one outstanding candidate that the Democrats have and no other candidate can match her depth or breadth of experience, a clear shot at Senator Bernie Sanders. And what - they did mention Sanders and they said that he's a courageous man, that he's rallied people to his side, but they don't think that his ideas are realistic or that he can get Congress to go along with what he wants to do.

MARTIN: Now, we mentioned earlier - in fact, the editorial writers themselves at The Des Moines Register has pointed out that these are not predictions. These are their recommendations based on what they think is best for the state and presumably for the country. But what is the predictive value here? Has The Des Moines Register wound up ever picking the winner, as it were?

MONTANARO: They have. Never, actually, on the Democratic side, which is pretty fascinating. I was going through the numbers before we went on, and they've never gotten the Democratic side right. I mean, they've (laughter) - it's really funny. I mean, they have not ever endorsed somebody who won Iowa or became the nominee. It's really kind of amazing.

On the Republican side, though, they've started doing this on both sides from 1988, and they got three of the Iowa winners right. They've gotten four of the nominees right. They love Bob Dole. They endorsed him twice in '88 and '96. And Dole, of course, was the nominee in '96. The last two elections, interestingly, they endorsed the men who became the nominee of the party, John McCain and Mitt Romney, but they did not endorse the people who went on to win their state.

MARTIN: Well, probably too soon to see how the other candidates who did not get the endorsement are reacting to this, but before - but if you know, feel free to tell me.

MONTANARO: Hillary Clinton actually did just weight in and said that she's proud to have the endorsement and that it's very important to her. I haven't seen what others have said so far, but I imagine they'll downplay it.

MARTIN: So before we let you go, there's word today that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is once again talking about putting some of his own personal wealth into exploring a presidential bid. Can you tell us any more about that?

MONTANARO: That's right. NPR confirmed that earlier today - that he is seriously considering it. He's going to decide sometime in March because that's when the filing deadlines start to kick in for when you can actually get on the election in the fall for general election ballots. He's deciding this or thinking about it, anyway. He's thought about it in the last few cycles, but he's thinking about it this time because of how unconventional things have been because you've got Hillary Clinton potentially losing to someone like Senator Sanders. You've got Donald Trump in the lead on the Republican side. And if it's a Trump-Sanders race, that's where most people are thinking Bloomberg thinks he could fit in.

Now, what's fascinating about that (laughter) is you would then have two New York billionaires running against the guy who has made his entire candidacy about being against billionaires.

MARTIN: It's so fascinating. We only have about 20 seconds. Do you have any sense of how Michael Bloomberg will play outside of New York where he is obviously a huge figure with a huge footprint on New York Politics. But how about outside of it, very quickly?

MONTANARO: And very controversial also. I mean, he would poll a little bit from both parties. He maybe polls a little bit more if Hillary Clinton runs from Hillary Clinton 'cause he's so socially liberal.

MARTIN: All right.

MONTANARO: But there are lots of controversial things that he's done...

MARTIN: Got...

MONTANARO: ...And hard to build alliances.

MARTIN: Got to leave it there.


MARTIN: That's NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro. Thank you.

MONTANARO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.