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Increasing numbers of Republican newspapers say Donald Trump is not fit to be president

USA Today have taken a side for the first time, while an Arizona newspaper has received death threats from Trump supporters.

Republican candidate Donald Trump smiling, but for how long?
Republican candidate Donald Trump smiling, but for how long?
Image: Evan Vucci/PA

A CONSERVATIVE ARIZONA newspaper is facing death threats and losing subscriptions after breaking with tradition by endorsing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for US president.

The Phoenix-based Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, announced in an editorial on Tuesday that it is backing a Democrat for the first time since it was founded in 1890 on the grounds that Trump is neither conservative nor qualified to be president.

The paper’s editorial board said that while Clinton did not lack flaws, she was also the “superior choice” by far.

The backlash began shortly after it published the endorsement, with outraged readers sending a deluge of angry emails and canceling subscriptions, said Phil Boas, who runs the paper’s editorial page.

“We got a lot of angry callers and we’ve had quite a few cancellations,” he said, adding that the editors had expected blowback and did not regret its decision.

The paper also received some threatening phone calls and a death threat, he said without elaborating.

USA Today set another precedent on Thursday, when its editorial board took a side in a presidential race for the first time in its 34-year history, although without issuing a straight endorsement.

Publishing scathing criticism of Trump, the national paper urged readers to oppose a candidate it said is “dangerous” and “unfit for the presidency.”

It went on to call him “erratic,” “ill-equipped,” “reckless,” someone with a “checkered” business past, and a “serial liar.”

Meanwhile, a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal – the most prominent Republican news outlet in America and owned by the right-leaning Rupert Murdoch – has also backed Clinton.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote, this morning:

Her election alone is what stands between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit president ever to enter the White House.

Dangerous

Despite the threats against the Arizona Republic, its editorial board feels “very good” about endorsing Clinton, Boas said.

“We know that it’s the responsible decision and choice to endorse Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump,” he said, adding that he did not believe regular readers were surprised, given the numerous scathing editorials about Trump previously published.

“About a year ago, we began writing very strong editorials about Trump because of his behavior on the stump, which to us seemed authoritarian,” Boas said.

We started raising the alarm about him… cautioning that what this man is saying is dangerous.

The Arizona Republic joins a growing list of conservative-leaning US newspapers to back the Democratic candidate during this year’s divisive presidential campaign.

A handful of others – including the Detroit News – have opted to back Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, an Ohio paper that has supported Republicans for almost a century, said last week that it was backing Clinton because “Trump is a clear and present danger to our country.”

The Dallas Morning News – based in the Republican-dominated state of Texas – broke a 75-year streak earlier this month by backing Clinton, describing her as the “only serious candidate.”

Both papers have also faced backlashes over their decision, with readers canceling subscriptions.

In denial

Boas, who describes himself as a lifelong Republican, said his paper’s decision to back a Democrat for the presidency was an easy decision given Trump’s policy proposals and behaviour.

“We would be shocked and horrified if our own kids, our own teenagers, behaved like him,” he said, adding that he understood Republicans’ mind-set but felt “a lot of them are in denial.”

I think a lot of them know that this guy violates their values.

“They are making compromises as they so dislike Hillary Clinton… and it’s time for Republicans and conservatives to wake up.”

The New York Times, a newspaper that has traditionally backed Democratic candidates, endorsed Clinton – and gave a scathing assessment of Trump as the worst presidential candidate put forward in modern history.

In the editorial, the New York Times said:

In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate — our choice, Hillary Clinton — has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway.

The editorial also aimed at persuading those who are hesitant to back Clinton to do so, stressing her intellect, experience and courage.

Meanwhile, Trump has accused Hillary Clinton is making “nasty” ads about him.

Most of Clinton’s commercials about Trump, though, merely include clips of him speaking. Her campaign seems to have concluded that Trump is his own worst enemy.

During Monday’s debate, Trump told Clinton he’s noticed “the very nasty commercials that you do on me in so many different ways, which I don’t do on you.”

The Associated Press reviewed Clinton’s 32 different general election ads that have aired on broadcast television and national cable and found 24 that show or mention Trump.

The majority of those feature raw footage of him rather than others opining on his words and actions.

- © AFP, 2016 with reporting from AP and Darragh Peter Murphy.

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