NYT Endorsement Says Joe Biden's Poll Lead Is Voter 'Familiarity,' Tells Him to 'Pass the Torch to a New Generation'

The New York Times said it was time for Joe Biden to "pass the torch" to a new generation of politicians as it endorsed his 2020 primary rivals Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic nomination.

The newspaper's editorial board said the former vice president was standing on a platform of "merely restoring the status quo," and argued that his lead in national polling could be the result of "familiarity as much as voter intention."

Biden campaign staff did not appear to be too bothered by the Times' snub, with several staffers sharing a documentary clip of the ex-vice president taking a selfie with a fan on social media.

But a few members of the Biden 2020 team did like tweets jabbing at the Times' Editorial Board over its decision to back Minnesota Sen. Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Warren, including one post arguing that the board's members appeared to "despise" the 77-year-old frontrunner.

Writing about its reasons for not endorsing Biden, the Times' Editorial Board began with praise, saying few men had "given more of their time and experience to the conduct of the public's business," and arguing that he had "the greatest fluency on foreign policy" among Democratic primary candidates.

Joe Biden in Iowa
Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa State Educators Association forum on January 18, 2020 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"Mr. Biden maintains a lead in national polls, but that may be a measure of familiarity as much as voter intention," the Times added. "His central pitch to voters is that he can beat Donald Trump. His agenda tinkers at the edges of issues like health care and climate, and he emphasizes returning the country to where things were before the Trump era.

"But merely restoring the status quo will not get America where it needs to go as a society."

Moving on to the former vice president's age, the board wrote: "What's more, Mr. Biden is 77. It is time for him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders."

Newsweek has contacted the Biden 2020 campaign for comment and will update this article with any response.

Posting on social media after the Times endorsement was revealed, Deputy National Press Secretary Matt Hill tweeted a picture of Biden taking an elevator selfie with a security guard captioned: "[That face when] #TheWeeklyNYT doesn't endorse but you're ready to WIN."

tfw #TheWeeklyNYT doesn't endorse but you're ready to WIN pic.twitter.com/AXx153uO1h

— Matt Hill (@thematthill) January 20, 2020

A clip from FX documentary "The Weekly" showing the former vice president's full interaction with the fan before his interview with the Times was shared by several Biden campaign staffers, with National Press Secretary TJ Ducklo posting the footage under the caption: "Proud to work for this guy."

He also liked a handful of posts scrutinizing the Editorial Board, including one post from Chronogram Magazine political reporter Andrew Solender that read: "Biden connected better with the mailroom worker in the elevator than any of the board members, who all genuinely seem to despise him."

Joe Biden's senior advisor Symone Sanders liked a post saying the Times endorsement being broadcast as a "reality TV show" was "reflective of our broken democracy."

The campaign's deputy press secretary also liked a tweet arguing the newspaper had "missed out on the next POTUS."

As national polling stands, Biden is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary, boasting an eight-point lead over second place Bernie Sanders, according to Real Clear Politics' average of polls.

The former vice president is also almost 11 points ahead of the national polling averages of Sens. Warren and Klobuchar, who have the combined supported of 17.8 percent of Democratic voters.

In its history of Democratic primary endorsements, the Times has typically backed the candidate favored by the party establishment.

The newspaper put its weight behind ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in both 2016 and 2008, when she was beaten to the nomination by Barack Obama.

It also said then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was "most qualified to be president" during the 2004 primary race, despite saying his closest competitor John Edwards had "been terrific on the campaign trail."