In the 34 years the USA Today has printed papers, its editorial board says it has never taken a position in a US presidential election.
That changed on Thursday, with the board issuing an a scathing rebuke of Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The paper, like many others have in recent weeks, called Trump “ill-equipped to be commander in chief,” saying he “traffics in prejudice,” “isn’t levelling with the American people,” and is “a serial liar.”
“Did you ever imagine that a presidential candidate would discuss the size of his genitalia during a nationally televised Republican debate? Neither did we,” the editorial board wrote. “Did you ever imagine a presidential candidate, one who avoided service in the military, would criticise Gold Star parents who lost a son in Iraq? Neither did we.”
But this was not an endorsement for Hillary Clinton. The eight-person editorial board was split on giving the Democratic candidate its support.
In a separate story explaining why the paper broke with tradition, the board wrote that it thought about what USA Today founder Al Neuharth would have done.
In 2012, Neuharth wrote his own editorial saying then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should stop appearing with Trump.
“He’s a clown who loves doing or saying things, no matter how ridiculous they may be,” Neuharth wrote. “No politician or voter — or Yankee fan — should take him seriously.”
As it’s customary for USA Today editorials to offer an opposing view, the tirade against Trump appears alongside a counterpoint from his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.
Instead of voting for Trump, the editorial board suggests voters “stay true to your convictions,” whether that means voting for Clinton, a third-party candidate, or a write-in.
“Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue,” the editorial concludes. “By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.”
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