Arizona Republic's Mic-Drop Endorsement of Hillary Clinton Is Latest Case of Stalwart Conservatives Crossing Over to Democrat Side
On Wednesday, the Arizona Republic newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. And while their readership may be a fraction of the New York Times‘s, their endorsement of Clinton is far more significant: Since the paper was first published more than 120 years ago, back in 1890, its editorial board has never thrown its weight behind a Democratic candidate.
That’s right: not Roosevelt, not Kennedy, not Carter, not the first Clinton – not even President Obama.
Its history, the paper said, “reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.”
But “this year is different,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.”
The Republic touted Clinton’s “cool head,” “steady hand” and “ability to think carefully before acting” as three essential qualities to serve in the Oval Office, and said those are attributes Republican nominee Donald Trump does not possess.
Though the paper admitted Clinton is flawed (pointing to her emails and acceptance of donations to the Clinton Foundation while serving as Secretary of State), it argued that Trump’s faults are greater.
“When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance,” the board wrote. “Not a blistering tweet.”
The Republic is just the latest conservative paper (or person) to come out against Trump this election season.
Last week, the Cincinnati Enquirer also endorsed Clinton, deviating from its Republican leanings of the past century.
The staff pointed to Trump’s “praise” of “some of our country’s most dangerous enemies,” naming Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Saddam Hussein, as well as his insults of people like President Obama, the Khan family and Senator John McCain.
“In these uncertain times, America needs a brave leader, not bravado,” the staff wrote. “Real solutions, not paper-thin promises. A clear eye toward the future, not a cynical appeal to the good old days.
“There is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.”
The Dallas Morning News became one of the first right-leaning papers to break with tradition, endorsing its first Democrat for president in 75 years and 20 elections back on Sept. 7.
The move from the Morning News was especially poignant, considering that in 1964, the paper chose to abstain from endorsing either Republican Barry Goldwater or the Democratic incumbent, President Lyndon Johnson.
“We’ve been critical of Clinton’s handling of certain issues in the past,” the staff wrote. “But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy. Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.”
The Morning News also mentioned Clinton’s past-proven ability to “reach across the aisle” as a reason for its support of her as a candidate, citing the fact that two-thirds of her bills in the Senate had Republican co-sponsors.
And like the Republic, the staff criticizes Trump, saying his “values are hostile to conservatism” and that he exploits “base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny – to bring out the worst in all of us.”
It wasn’t a decision that came easily to the paper, or one that was entirely well received, Morning News editor Mike Wilson told Poynter.
“Certainly we’ve paid a price for our presidential recommendation,” Wilson said. “But then, we write our editorials based on principle, and sometimes principle comes at a cost.”
Of course, it’s not just papers, it’s people, too: more than 60 Republican lawmakers have either endorsed Clinton, or said they’d vote for her over Trump.
This number includes former Republican governors such as William Milliken of Michigan and Larry Pressler of South Dakota, current and former members of Congress – like Representative Richard Hanna, former Congresswoman Connie Morella and former Senators David Durenberger and John Warner – as well as multiple members of past Republican presidential administrations.
Warner is the latest addition to the pro-Clinton conservative camp: He endorsed Clinton on Wednesday morning at an event with vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in their home state, Virginia.
Perhaps the biggest anti-Republican Republican name of all? George H.W. Bush – however, whether he’s actually pro-Clinton hasn’t been confirmed by Bush himself. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy, shared a photo on Facebook posing with the former president, with the caption “The President told me he’s voting for Hillary!!”
Bush hasn’t yet endorsed any candidate this election season (well, besides son Jeb!), but Townsend told Politico “that’s what he said.”