Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is applauded as she arrives for the Women for Hillary Get Out the Caucus event at Buford Garner Elementary School in North Liberty, Iowa, Jan. 24, 2016. Reuters/Scott Morgan

The Boston Globe endorsed Hillary Clinton Sunday, a big boost for the former secretary of state as she battles Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in close races in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. The two Democratic candidates are neck and neck in Iowa polling, but Sanders has maintained a substantial lead in New Hampshire for some time.

The Boston Globe’s circulation includes many voters in New Hampshire, so the timing of the endorsement — just two weeks before the first-in-the-nation primary — could be a crucial asset.

The editorial board of the Boston Globe said it was basing its endorsement of Clinton not on “the weakness of her opponents” but on her “demonstrated strengths and experiences.” In the piece, titled “Hillary Clinton deserves Democratic nomination,” the Globe said Clinton will be able to push for issues that President Barack Obama has not been able to tackle during his time in the White House, such as gun control and immigration reform.

“Today, the nation has new challenges, which require a different kind of leader — someone who can keep what Obama got right, while also fixing his failures, especially on gun control and immigration reform. That will require a focus and toughness that Obama sometimes lacked,” the endorsement said. “This is Clinton’s time, and the Globe enthusiastically endorses her in the Feb. 9 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. She is more seasoned, more grounded, and more forward-looking than in 2008, and has added four years as secretary of state to her already formidable résumé. Democrats in the Granite State should not hesitate to choose her.”

The endorsement also addressed what editorial board members saw as issues in Sanders’ candidacy. While it praised him for pushing Clinton to the left and raising the topic of income inequality, it questioned his lack of foreign policy experience and inability to reach beyond his already committed supporters.

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This weekend also saw Clinton rake in two other key endorsements from early-state newspapers. The Des Moines Register, the important local Iowa paper, and the New Hampshire Concord Monitor endorsed the former secretary of state, citing her foreign policy chops among other experience.

Sanders has sometimes struggled to convince supporters that he can compete with Clinton on national security and terrorism, so these endorsements likely come as little surprise to the senator. However, he and Clinton will continue to trade barbs this week as they campaign to see who will take home the first trophy of 2016 when the Iowa caucuses take place Feb. 1.