The frontrunners for both parties’ presidential nominations got some big endorsements to build momentum in the final week before the Iowa caucuses. On Tuesday, Democrat Hillary Clinton got the nod from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s most prominent gay rights organization. "While they fight to take us backwards,” HRC President Chad Griffin said of the Republican candidate, “Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality across our nation and throughout the world."
A spokesperson for Ms. Clinton’s chief Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, shrugged off the endorsement. “It’s understandable and consistent with the establishment organizations voting for the establishment candidate, but it’s an endorsement that cannot possibly be based on the facts and the record,” Michael Briggs told the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper. Mr. Briggs noted that Ms. Clinton backed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman under federal law, while Mr. Sanders voted against it.
But the HRC may be a perfect fit for the candidate with the initials HRC, as both are known for cautious and pragmatic approaches to politics. The lobbying group was not at the forefront of the push for same-sex marriage, and it is better known for fundraising galas than for street protests. It is hardly analogous to, say, Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, which is why the Sanders campaign may find it useful as a foil. But the HRC endorsement should shore up Ms. Clinton’s support among older gay and lesbian voters.
The HRC move gave the Sanders campaign an opportunity to dismiss anew the endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Planned Parenthood, the women’s health group that runs, among other services, abortion clinics. The group threw its support to Ms. Clinton earlier this month, marking its first-ever endorsement in a presidential primary—though without making any distinction between Hillary Clinton and her Democratic rivals, instead blasting “every single GOP candidate.” On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders told CNN, “I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund, in Planned Parenthood. But you know what, Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time and some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment."
The Clinton campaign is clearly nervous about this characterization in an election year marked by suspicion toward anyone who holds power in Washington, tweeting,
Still, the “establishment” may be better at turning out votes in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, the frontrunner in Republican polls, Donald Trump, got the endorsement of Sarah Palin on Tuesday in Iowa. In normal times, a former vice-presidential nominee would be considered part of the establishment, but the “rogue” Ms. Palin has never been tight with national GOP leaders and passed up opportunities to run for president herself in 2012 and in this election cycle. Josh Marshall argues that her alliance with Mr. Trump, however, “forces us to rethink the last half dozen years and understand Sarah Palin not as a disgraced has-been but as a Republican innovator who arrived before her time.” He adds, “There's little question that the 2016 GOP is the party of Sarah Palin. Donald Trump is simply the successor who is bringing what she started to fruition—the Joshua to her Moses, the Umar to her Muhammad.” Maybe the establishment isn’t who most of us—including David Brooks, today calling for the “Republican ruling class” to stop Donald Trump and Ted Cruz—think it is.