America faces no shortage of challenges as Iowans prepare to cast the first votes of the 2016 campaign for president.
At home, fears of terrorism grow; costs and consequences of the Affordable Care Act frustrate and anger; our southern border remains unsecured and the problem of what to do about millions of illegal immigrants already in our country remains unsolved; potential for a future Social Security crisis threatens; White House executive actions raise constitutional questions; federal debt nears $19 trillion with no end to red ink in sight; gun violence rages; and talk about a looming recession percolates.
Overseas, the Middle East roils; Iraq teeters and Afghanistan deteriorates; ISIS expands its reach; Russian President Vladimir Putin flexes; unstable Kim Jong-un of North Korea menaces; Israel worries; and Europe wrestles with a refugee crisis unrivaled since World War II.
Exacerbating the nation's angst is polarized Washington, D.C. According to a September 2015 Gallup Poll, Americans believe dissatisfaction with government is the most important problem facing our country today.
Within this turbulence and following months of unrivaled, up-close-and-personal interaction with candidates, Iowans on Feb. 1 will gather in private homes, schools and other public buildings to caucus for the man or woman they believe should occupy the White House for the next four years.
The nation's eyes will be watching.
In our view, decisions by Republicans and Democrats shouldn't be based on who shouts and insults loudest and shouldn't be swayed by who boasts the most impossible promises. Remember, the American president isn't a CEO who simply barks orders; he or she doesn't spend money, write laws or govern other countries.
The president must be possessed not only of plans and strategies, but requisite political and personal instincts and skills and a capacity to lead, influence, and unite conflicting positions and principles. The individual who will assume the most powerful office in the world in less than one year and, we hope, lead America to better days should combine experience, pragmatism, intellect, reason, and a calm, steady demeanor.
In our opinion, Marco Rubio - U.S. senator from Florida - and Democrat Hillary Clinton - former first lady, United States senator and secretary of state - are, within their respective political parties, the 2016 presidential candidates who embody the biggest share of those qualities and attributes and who represent the best choices to face off for election in the fall.
Today, The Journal endorses the candidacies of Rubio and Clinton in Iowa's leadoff caucuses.
In our view, the two political parties and the nation as a whole would be well-served by what we believe would be a spirited Rubio-vs.-Clinton contest of contrasting philosophies and visions in which both candidates could appeal to the political middle and draw crossover support because neither is positioned at the political fringe.
Each is, we believe, capable of winning the general election.
In our view, the 44-year-old Rubio represents one of the brightest lights within today's Republican Party.
Articulate, informed and personable, Rubio delivers winning performances on the campaign trail and in GOP candidate debates. For us, his rise from humble roots inspires and his optimistic, positive message resonates.
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Take, for example, this quote from Rubio's book, "American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone":
"There is no time in our history I would rather live in than right here, right now. For we are on the eve of a new American Century. The most prosperous and secure era in our nation's history is within our reach. All that is required of us has to do with what those who came before us did: confront our challenges and embrace our opportunities. And when we do, we will leave for our children what our parents left for us: the most exceptional nation in all of human history.”
From life to the Second Amendment to smaller government and less government spending to Obamacare to border security to national security, Rubio meets the conservative test. The Heritage Action for America conservative scorecard, in fact, gives him a 94 percent rating. At the same time, he takes what we believe is a realistic approach to issues such as tax reform, immigration reform and trade with China.
As a U.S. senator and multiple-term member of the Florida Legislature where he served as speaker, majority leader and majority whip, Rubio appreciates and practices the need to, on occasion, work with the other side of the political aisle. In a time of intransigence and paralysis in Washington, an ability to bridge political divides appeals to us.
Finally, we believe Rubio is positioned better than any GOP candidate in the 2016 field to expand the Republican base and draw a diversity of voters from across the political spectrum.
Among GOP candidates who seek the White House this year, Rubio rises to the top as the strongest choice for Republicans.
Without question, the 68-year-old Clinton possesses a breadth of experiences in public life unmatched by her Democratic opponents. In the "arena" at the fulcrum of national and international events since the '90s, Clinton requires no on-the-job training. She understands issues and knows leaders, both domestic and foreign, and appreciates the processes and peculiarities of the federal government from the perspective of both the legislative and executive branches.
From children to families to health care to human rights, including women's rights, to marriage equality, Clinton champions issues and positions true to traditional Democratic principles. She bolsters her domestic credentials with foreign policy experience as America's chief diplomat.
Overall, we view her positions as closer to the political center than, certainly, the "democratic socialism" advocated by her most-formidable opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose "revolution" of a dramatic increase in the size of government and spending is far too revolutionary for our taste and, we believe, for the taste of most Americans.
Do not diminish, we might add, the value to her candidacy of having husband Bill, a popular former president, as an adviser and campaigner.
We are not without concerns about Clinton.
We do not believe, for example, all email questions have been answered by Clinton and won't be surprised if fresh, deeper email problems emerge for her as the FBI investigation proceeds.
For today, though, we believe Clinton remains the strongest choice for Democrats within their field of presidential candidates.