WASHINGTON, Oct 1 – In a break from tradition, USA Today took a stance Friday in the upcoming presidential election, warning readers to “resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue” and reject Republican Donald Trump. The national newspaper, one of the most widely circulated in the United States, had never in its 34-year history taken a position on a presidential race, but its editorial board spoke out this time on the battle between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“We’ve never seen reason to alter our approach. Until now. This year, one of the candidates – Republican nominee Donald Trump – is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency. From the day he declared his candidacy 15 months ago through this week’s first presidential debate, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents,” the paper said.
The newspaper presented an eight-point list explaining why it thinks the New York billionaire is not fit for the White House. Trump is “erratic,” “ill-equipped to be commander in chief” and a “serial liar,” the paper said. He also “traffics in prejudice,” “speaks recklessly,” has coarsened the national dialogue, has a checkered career in business, and hasn’t levelled with voters on issues such as his tax returns.
In a rebuttal of sorts, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence insisted that “Donald Trump is ready to lead.” “The American people once again stand at a time for choosing. On one hand, we have a candidate in Hillary Clinton who represents all that is wrong with the status quo in Washington. On the other, Donald Trump has the courage to speak his mind and the boldness to make true his vision of a renewed America,” the Indiana governor wrote in a USA Today op-ed piece.
No endorsement for Clinton
Despite its position on Trump, USA Today refrained from endorsing Clinton, saying its board was unable to reach a consensus. It cited her long career in public service, but noted her “sense of entitlement, her lack of candour and her extreme carelessness in handling classified information.”
Clinton has flaws, “though hers are far less likely to threaten national security or lead to a constitutional crisis,” the paper said. It urged readers to make a choice: vote for Clinton, for a third-party candidate, write in a candidate or focus on down-ballot candidates in other races that will also be decided on Election Day, Nov 8.
“Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump,” it said. USA Today is the latest major newspaper to warn against Trump. Conservative newspapers such as The Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer and Dallas Morning News have broken from decades of support for Republican candidates and endorsed Clinton.
Trump shot back on Twitter after the USA Today editorial, claiming it and other papers that have been critical of him are losing readership. “The people are really smart in cancelling subscriptions to the Dallas & Arizona papers & now USA Today will lose readers! The people get it!” he wrote. Clinton and Trump are locked in a tight race, with the Democrat holding a narrow 2.9-point lead in the latest average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. — AFP