In its first foray into presidential endorsements, USA Today Thursday warned Americans against voting for Republican Donald Trump, calling him a “dangerous demagogue” but held back on full-fledged support for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The newspaper said Trump has proved himself erratic, ill-equipped to be commander in chief, tolerant of prejudice, guilty of suspect business practices, dissembling about his wealth, prone to reckless comments, coarse and a serial liar.
At the same time, the newspaper said it is not giving Clinton its unqualified backing.
“Our bottom-line advice for voters is this: Stay true to your convictions. That might mean a vote for Clinton. … Or it might mean a third-party candidate. Or a write-in. Or a focus on down-ballot candidates,” the newspaper said.
“Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.”
The editorial followed a string of endorsements for Clinton from newspapers that traditionally have backed Republican candidates.
The Arizona Republic, in its first ever endorsement of a Democrat, called Clinton the “superior choice” for president Tuesday, citing Trump’s lack of “human decency, empathy and respect.”
“The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified,” the Republic said.
Since the editorial was published, the newspaper has received death threats, editorial page director Phil Boas told KPNX, Phoenix. A number of readers have canceled subscriptions.
Earlier, Clinton picked up endorsements from the conservative journal National Review, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Dallas Morning News.
Whether newspaper endorsements still make a difference in elections is an open question but with the polls as tight as they are, undecided voters still may be looking for direction.
Rasmussen Reports put Clinton and Trump just a point apart, 42 percent to 41 percent, in its first daily White House Watch survey, released Thursday. Among the 80 percent of voters who are sure about whom they will support, Clinton and Trump are tied at 48 percent each.