- REUTERS/Eric Thayer
In the 34 years USA Today has printed newspapers, its editorial board says, it has never taken a position in a US presidential election.
That changed Thursday, with the board issuing a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.
The paper, as many others have in recent weeks, called Trump “ill-equipped to be commander in chief,” saying he “traffics in prejudice,” “isn’t leveling 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 criticize Gold Star parents who lost a son in Iraq? Neither did we,” it added.
But the paper noted that its Trump takedown was not an endorsement for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. The eight-person editorial board was split on giving Clinton its support.
In a separate story explaining why the paper sidestepped its tradition of neutrality, the board wrote that it thought about what USA Today founder Al Neuharth would have done.
In 2012, the year before he died, Neuharth wrote his own editorial saying 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, Thursday night’s tirade against Trump appeared alongside a counterpoint from his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.
The editorial board urges voters to “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.”