In the NYT primary, it's Clinton and McCain

The Times says Clinton's experience beats the excitement of Obama.

Published January 25, 2008 2:29AM (EST)

The New York Times has just published its endorsements for the two parties' presidential nominees: Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and John McCain for the Republicans.

In the Democratic race, the Times' editorial board says the experience Clinton brings trumps the excitement Barack Obama offers. "The potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can't foresee," the Times says. "The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president."

The Times' editorial board is more enthusiastic about Clinton than it is about the campaign she is running. "As strongly as we back her candidacy," the Times says, "we urge Mrs. Clinton to take the lead in changing the tone of the campaign. It is not good for the country, the Democratic Party or for Mrs. Clinton, who is often tagged as divisive, in part because of bitter feeling about her husband's administration and the so-called permanent campaign." The Times warns that "Bill Clinton's overheated comments are feeding those resentments, and could do long-term damage to [his wife's] candidacy if he continues this way."

The Times notes that it once doubted Hillary Clinton's ability to present herself as a national candidate. However, the Times now says, "Her ideas, her comeback in New Hampshire and strong showing in Nevada, her new openness to explaining herself and not just her programs, and her abiding, powerful intellect show she is fully capable of doing just that. She is the best choice for the Democratic Party as it tries to regain the White House."

On the Republican side -- where the Times' endorsement may be less than helpful -- the editorial board paints McCain as the best of some bad choices.

"We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president," the editorial board says. "The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice. Still, there is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field."

What about New York's own Rudy Giuliani? Don't ask. The Times declares Giuliani to be a "narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man" whose "arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Hillary Rodham Clinton John Mccain R-ariz.