Week in Politics: Political Endorsements Ron Elving examines the latest newspaper endorsements and Sen. Joseph Lieberman's support of Republican candidate John McCain.
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Week in Politics: Political Endorsements

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Week in Politics: Political Endorsements

Week in Politics: Political Endorsements

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ALEX COHEN, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Cohen.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And I'm Madeleine Brand. In a few minute, you'll hear about one high school's crackdown on text messaging, and students there are not LOL-ing.

COHEN: But first, the Iowa caucuses are just about two weeks away, and there's been some interesting developing developments in the presidential race over the last 24 hours. Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, once a Democrat, now an independent, has endorsed fellow Iraq war supporter and Republican candidate John McCain. Here is Lieberman speaking earlier today in New Hampshire.

Senator JOE LIEBERMAN (Republican, Connecticut): Being a Republican is important. Being a Democrat is important. But you know what's more important than that? The interests and well-being of the United States of America. Let's put America first again, and John McCain is the man as president who will help us do that.

COHEN: Here to weigh in endorsements and more is NPR's Washington editor Ron Elving.

Hi, Ron.

RON ELVING: Good to be with you, Alex.

COHEN: So, let's start off with this Lieberman endorsement. What's going on here?

ELVING: Well, Joe Lieberman has been a strong supporter of a strong policy in Iraq and against Islamic terrorism, as he puts it, or the war on terror, if you will, for some time, all the way back to the very beginning, ever since 9/11 and before. So it's not surprising that he would he pick out a candidate who would be the strongest supporter of that policy, and that lets out all the people in Joe Lieberman's former party, the Democratic Party, where he ran for vice president in 2000, because they're not taking that kind of a position on Iraq.

Therefore, he has to look over on the Republican side, and there his choice would seem to be between Senator McCain and perhaps Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. So if there is an impact here within the Republican field, my guess is that it would be - that it would be some kind of a boost for McCain among independents in New Hampshire, people who would listen to a Joe Lieberman, who have the same view of the situation in Iraq and the war on terror globally. And it would be a help for him over Rudy Giuliani, who appears to kind of stepping back a little bit from New Hampshire and perhaps ceding some of that territory to McCain.

COHEN: John McCain also picked up some endorsements from influential newspapers in early primary states. It's looking good for him.

ELVING: Yes, he rather hit the trifecta here. He won the Des Moines Register endorsement in Iowa. That may not mean a great deal, since he hasn't really contesting Iowa. But he also got the endorsement of the Boston Globe, which is much read in New Hampshire.

Also earlier, the Manchester Union Leader, which is a highly influential newspaper among Republicans, and also from the newspaper in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This is probably going to add up to something for John McCain. If you take all of these things together in New Hampshire, this looks like it can do him some good. Don't expect to see much impact in Iowa.

COHEN: Let's switch gears for a moment and talk about the Democrats. Both frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, also picked up some key endorsements over the weekend, right?

ELVING: Yes, that's right. In Iowa, Hillary Rodham Clinton was choice of the Des Moines Register, and that is highly interesting. Among other things, it's interesting because it's the most positive development in her campaign in several weeks.

On the other side, over in New Hampshire, you've got the Boston Globe endorsing Barack Obama, which is probably going to be a little bit of a surprise to some people. They're going to think, gee, we weren't really paying that much attention to him here in New Hampshire. He hasn't been that bigger factor here, but the Boston Globe was willing to throw in with him, maybe I'll take another look.

COHEN: Ron, I'd like to ask you about a piece I read in yesterday's New York Times. And the gist of the article said that, you know, to date we haven't heard too much about race and the fact that Barack Obama is an African-American candidate and whether or not people who aren't African-American will vote for him. What do you make of all this?

ELVING: I think that race has been a factor in Barack Obama's appeal, and up to now I think it's been largely on the positive side for him. I don't think Iowa is going to be the best test because while the state is almost entirely white, it has not been a state that's associated with making racial judgments on the candidates in the past. It doesn't have a big history here.

And I think if Barack Obama winds up winning Iowa, it will be some evidence that white Democrats will vote for an African-American candidate. But it won't tell us that much about the rest of the electorate in the rest of the country. So we're going to see some other tests of this down the road. If Barack Obama indeed does become the Democratic nominee for president, then I think race will come very much to the fore.

COHEN: NPR's Washington editor Ron Elving, thanks.

ELVING: My pleasure.

BRAND: And here's a boost for the candidates. They'll like return to late-night after the new year. Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien announced today that they will be returning to air January 2nd with fresh episodes, without their writers though. They will still be on strike. So no jokes about those presidential candidates.

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