The Des Moines Register, traditionally Iowa's most influential publication, has endorsed Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain for their parties' presidential nominations with only 19 days to go until its fellow Iowans have to make their own choices in the state's first-in-the-nation Jan. 3 caucuses.
Traditionally, the paper's votes of confidence, which comes from the state's most influential publication, has meant a major boost for candidates.
The backing comes to Clinton, D-N.Y., after another bumpy week along the campaign trail. The publication said her "readiness to lead sets her apart from a constellation of possible stars in her party, particularly [Sen.] Barack Obama, D-Ill."
"It was a very intense discussion. We did agonize over this," Des Moines Register editorial page editor Carol Hunter, one of the six people on the editorial board who whittled the top Democratic competitors, told ABC News' "Good Morning America Weekend Edition" of the group's selection of Clinton.
The board noted Obama tended to be the "more inspirational" candidate of the two on the stump. But, the newspaper editors said his "relative inexperience" gave them less confidence he would be up to the job.
Hunter said the board tried to get know the candidates and their platforms well before deciding on who it would back.
"There was a full court press," she said. "We had h'dourves with Sen. Obama. We had dinner Sen. Edwards."
The group also met with Clinton.
The Clinton backing came as a blow the former Sen. John Edwards' campaign, which received the periodical's endorsement four years ago. That endorsement may have helped boost him to a strong second-place position in the state in 2004. But he still lost the primary, proving the paper's endorsement isn't always a predictor of who will win the primary.
"The paper doesn't always pick winner. It's like any newspaper. It endorses candidates it likes -- and sometimes readers like it and sometimes they don't," said Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen.
While the Des Moines Register agreed with the Boston Globe, which also released its endorsements Sunday, that McCain, R-Ariz., was the best Republican in the race, it differed on the top Democrat, as the Globe opted for Obama.
That endorsement served as a nice consolation prize for Obama because it usually helps out during the New Hampshire primaries.
"It's true that other Democratic contenders have ... spent more time in Washington," the Globe editorial board wrote. "But that exposure has tended to give them a sense of government's constraints. Obama is more open to its possibilities."
Yet the clear-cut winner out of all the candidates may be McCain, whose experience and honesty served to give him favor with both editorial boards, despite the fact they may have not agreed on some of his political stances.
"We really looked at confidences and readiness to lead. We decided that's what the country really needs right now," Hunter said of McCain's endorsement. "We said in our endorsement [that] we disagree with Sen. McCain on a lot of issues."
But, McCain's straight talk likely means the country would know where he is coming from, Hunter added.