NEW YORK (CNN) -- The New York Times endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination over Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the GOP field, strongly criticizing the former mayor of its home city.
Sens. John McCain, left, and Rudy Giuliani took part in a debate in Florida on Thursday.
In endorsements posted on its Web site for Friday's editions, the Times also endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
"Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe," the paper's editorial board wrote.
"With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field."
The endorsement anticipated readers asking how the New York paper could reject Giuliani, a man it endorsed for re-election in 1997 and praised for his work cleaning up crime in the city and during the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"That man is not running for president," the paper wrote.
"The Rudolph Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business, with a secret client list, then exploited his city's and the country's nightmare to promote his presidential campaign," the paper writes, describing Giuliani as "a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man."
Giuliani played down the harsh words, suggesting that the Times has a liberal editorial staff that often disapproved of him.
"I probably never did anything the New York Times suggested I do in eight years as mayor of New York City, and if I did, I wouldn't be considered a conservative Republican," Giuliani said during a Republican debate Thursday night hosted by MSNBC in Boca Raton, Florida.
"I changed welfare, I changed quality of life, I took on homelessness -- I did all the things that they think makes you mean and I believe show true compassion and true love for people."
His wasn't the only Republican campaign taking that tack. An e-mail from the campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sarcastically noted that McCain had been endorsed by "[t]hat bastion of conservative advocacy."
The editorial was hardly full of praise for McCain, despite calling him a "genuine war hero" and a "staunch advocate of campaign finance reform."
"Mr. McCain was one of the first prominent Republicans to point out how badly the war in Iraq was being managed. We wish he could now see as clearly past the temporary victories produced by Mr. Bush's unsustainable escalation, which have not led to any change in Iraq's murderous political calculus," it reads.
"At the least, he owes Americans a real idea of how he would win this war, which he says he can do."
The paper praised Clinton's chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, but called Clinton more qualified for the job.
"It is unfair, especially after seven years of Mr. Bush's inept leadership, but any Democrat will face tougher questioning about his or her fitness to be commander in chief," it reads.
"Mrs. Clinton has more than cleared that bar, using her years in the Senate well to immerse herself in national security issues, and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military."
The Democratic editorial contrasts Clinton and Obama -- calling her "the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York" and him "the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois."
The paper says Clinton "sometimes overstates the importance of [her] resume," but that upon hearing "her policies and answers for America's big problems, we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience."
New York is one of a host of states that will vote during the February 5 Super Tuesday primaries. E-mail to a friend
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