Editorial boards at several large Iowa publications joined the crowd.
Not only that, some went so far as to endorse Hillary Clinton, including one newspaper that had not supported a Democrat for president in my lifetime.
I enclose below highlights from thirteen lead editorials endorsing either Clinton or neither major-party candidate. Earlier this year, I thought some conservative editorial boards might choose Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson as an alternative to Trump, but I am not aware of any Iowa newspapers to do so.
Speaking of endorsements, film-maker Michael Moore spoke to Rolling Stone magazine recently about his “forbidden love” for Clinton and his fear that Trump, whom he considers a “sociopath,” could win the election. Some of Moore’s comments surprised me, since he campaigned for Ralph Nader in 2000 and was a big Bernie Sanders backer in the primaries. His reasoning tracked closely to that of Iowa’s best-known Nader endorser, Ed Fallon. Speaking to Bleeding Heartland in August, Fallon discussed that choice and why he’s discouraging activists on the left from voting for third-party candidates this year.
Des Moines Register
Iowa’s largest newspaper has mostly endorsed Democratic candidates for president in recent decades, with the exception of Mitt Romney in 2012. This year, the Register’s editors argued, Clinton represents “a vote for American values”:
For those who believe America should be a beacon of a hope in a world ravaged by terrorism, that it should be a force for good and that its leaders should embody all that is best about this nation, there is only one choice for president: Hillary Clinton.
The Democratic nominee is intelligent, experienced and respected by our allies around the world. Her detractors say she’s too secretive and too distrustful of the press and the public — and they’re right. But these are characteristics that would have prompted almost anyone else with her background to retire from public life and seek employment in the far more lucrative private sector.
Clinton has instead taken the path of greatest resistance, choosing to remain in the public arena where, for almost 40 years, she has fended off an unrelenting barrage of politically motivated attacks while fighting for social justice. […]
The case for a Clinton presidency could easily be made even if the GOP nominee wasn’t Donald Trump, a man who has never held public office, never worked in the public sector, has no experience in foreign relations, and has relatively few political allies even within his own party. […]
The very qualities that have endeared Trump to his supporters — the lack of polish, the vilification of his opponents, the refusal to articulate policy details, the reluctance to seek advice from others, the inability to recognize his own shortcomings, the complete absence of humility, the disdain for compromise, the hostility toward the Fourth Estate, the alarming paucity of intellectual curiosity — would be crippling liabilities for any president the instant he or she took the oath of office.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette
Iowa’s second largest newspaper has supported two Democrats for president since the 1880s: Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916, and Lyndon Johnson in 1964. All other presidential endorsements went to Republican candidates, except for Ross Perot in 1992. This year, the editors endorsed Clinton on the grounds that “our democratic republic is worth saving”:
There are many fair criticisms to be made of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Revelations from Clinton’s State Department and leaked email exchanges laid bare manipulative strategizing that many find rightly distasteful or morally objectionable. Given nearly any other conceivable Republican opponent in this election, our decision would have been made much more difficult.
As it stands, the only responsible endorsement to make is for Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is arguably the most broadly prepared candidate for presidency in the history of the office. […]
Has she solved every problem? Of course not. But she has tirelessly, consistently, done the work. As even her opponent has acknowledged, she never gives up. That, along the way Clinton also has learned to excel at political gamesmanship speaks as much to our current system as it speaks to her character. […]
Do not throw up your hands and say the game is rigged. Do not put your faith in a candidate who has proved in business and his personal life that he does not have a long-term strategy; that he cannot hold his temper; that he has utter disregard for the common good; that he lacks the basic understanding of governance, public service or what many of us would consider common decency.
The Quad-City Times
Aside from supporting Barack Obama in 2008, the leading newspaper in Iowa’s third-largest metro area has mostly endorsed Republicans for president. This year, the editorial board concluded that “Clinton is the only option”:
False equivalence has dominated this maddeningly long election cycle. Clinton is not without her faults. Her private email server while secretary of state, for example, proves Clinton’s distaste for transparency.
But Trump — the man is nothing short of a racist, misogynist demagogue with no respect for the rule of law. The foibles of the two candidates aren’t even in the same galaxy. Clinton bends the rules with lawyerly imprecision slathered in hubris and entitlement. Trump stomps on the Constitution one amendment at a time. […]
Trump treats women like sex objects. He’s chided veterans. He’s leveled generalized accusations on anyone without a lily white complexion. He’s stoked right-wing paranoia. He’s rejected science and fact-finding. He’s endorsed war crimes. He’s taken a page from Stalin and threatened to imprison political opponents. […]
If nothing else, Trump has exposed the deep-seated prejudices that fester at America’s core. Going forward, the lessons of Trump must be dealt with, particularly within the GOP. A right-wing insurgency this year cost Republicans an opportunity against a very beatable Democratic opponent.
Yes, Clinton has flipped on free trade. Yes, her cozy relationship with Wall Street is a cause for concern. But the more of the same that Clinton offers — while not exciting — shines bright against the xenophobic darkness offered by Trump. Those Republicans who have doggedly supported him come hell or high water, including Gov. Terry Branstad and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, are an embarrassment.
The Omaha World-Herald
Although this newspaper isn’t located in Iowa, it reaches a large audience in the southwest corner of the state. Its editors had not endorsed a Democrat for president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. (The newspaper made no endorsement in 1964.) This year, the World-Herald declared Clinton a “prudent pick”:
Clinton’s legislative experience and decades of political involvement — as first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, U.S. senator from New York, secretary of state and two-time presidential candidate — make her the better prepared of the two major candidates for the office of president of the United States.
The risk of a Donald Trump presidency is simply too great.
His alienation of so many groups — women, the disabled, Muslim-Americans, former prisoners of war, the family of a Muslim soldier killed in action, Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans — is too divisive.
Trump shows a lack of statesmanship that is fundamental to serving in the Oval Office.
Trump has repeatedly shown a disdain for our nation’s allies and alliances and an affection for its enemies. […]
A man who lashes out impulsively when attacked should not be entrusted to command the world’s most powerful military.
Mason City Globe-Gazette
Yet another largely conservative editorial board came to view Clinton as “the best option”:
Many of us wish we had a better option than the major party candidates. But based on the certainly that one of these two will be elected, there is, in our judgment, really only one realistic choice. Hillary Clinton must be elected president of the United States. […]
We believe that electing Donald Trump president would be dangerous. We also believe it would be an insult:
An insult to women. […]
An insult to minorities. […]
An insult to the disabled. […]
An insult to hard-working taxpayers everywhere. […]
An insult to other countries whose people depend on the United States for leadership. […]
And most recently, an insult to every American who believes in, who has fought for or who has worked to preserve the guiding principles of our country. Trump has said he might not accept the results of the election if he loses – a statement one veteran observer called the worst comment by a candidate in 160 years. […]
If this was an election where you didn’t like the Republican or the Democrat, but either could do the job, voting for a third option would be a way to send a message. But not this year.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen
It was no surprise when the main newspaper in Iowa’s most Democratic county described Clinton as “the best and only choice”:
Trump removed himself from consideration for our endorsement early in the primary campaign, when he called for a ban on Muslim immigration and the deportation of 11 million undocumented workers from the United States. Since then, he has only dug a deeper hole, making more and more outlandish, dangerous statements, culminating with the release of audio on which he bragged about forcing himself on women, tantamount to confessing to sexual assault. The negatives of a Trump presidency have been well-documented, and to go into them here would necessitate more print space than we are allowed. Suffice it to say, the United States would suffer greatly from Donald Trump’s residency in the White House, not least of which would see the lowering of our already tarnished reputation worldwide.
Clinton is our candidate of choice by default, being the major-party candidate who isn’t Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean we endorse her on that basis alone. As we said in our primary endorsement, Clinton’s qualifications are immense. As a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, Clinton carries the experience that will allow her to do the job on day one. Trump has no foreign relations or political experience, and his first 100 days would likely be spent mending fences laid to waste by his volatile campaign.
Of the two candidates, Clinton seems the better equipped to turn her platform into reality — and her platform the better to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. A higher minimum wage, expanding access to health insurance, easing student debt and making college affordable: All these are planks of Clinton’s agenda that have direct benefits for the vast majority of American people. Trump’s tax plan, little more than Republican supply-side orthodoxy, would cut taxes for nearly all Americans but reserve the most drastic cuts for those at the top of the income ladder. We’ve seen the results of this type of plan, and they’re not pretty.
Burlington Hawk Eye
Iowa’s oldest newspaper had nothing kind to say about Trump in this October 9 editorial:
There will be another presidential debate tonight, but we doubt it will do much to move the needle. Our hunch is most Americans already have decided. And we’re guessing they decided what the Republicans are offering would be a mistake for the country.
Hillary Clinton should be — and we believe will be — the next president of the United States. It will be as historic an election — the first woman to be elected president — as it was in 2008 when Barack Obama became the first black American to win the presidency. […]
Republicans have nominated a bombastic failed businessman as their torch bearer, and their leadership is trying its best to maintain straight faces when appearing before cameras in an attempt to convince voters he’s a good choice for America. He’s not.
The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald
Although Dubuque has long been a Democratic city, its newspaper has traditionally endorsed Republican candidates, most recently U.S. Representative Rod Blum and Senator Chuck Grassley this year. But get a load of the kicker in the October 12 lead editorial, “Surprised by Trump’s lewd remarks? Why?”
For decades, the TH Editorial Board did not make endorsements for president, choosing to focus on races involving local, regional and statewide offices. Further, we viewed presidential elections as offering voters a challenging choice among well-known candidates of merit. And, while this editorial is not an endorsement for a presidential candidate, it clearly is a statement against an offensive misogynist as the leader of our country.
The big surprise about Trump’s ugly comments — past and present — is that so many people are surprised by them.
Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier
Whereas the Telegraph-Herald broke with a long tradition of not taking a stand on the presidential race, two major Iowa newspapers hat usually endorse presidential candidates decided to punt this year. Both endorsed Romney in 2012.
Last weekend, the Courier’s editors told readers, “We don’t endorse, but we do worry”:
We do not find any candidate inspiring, capable of healing divisions, offering much vision or providing leadership.
Clinton was preordained by party regulars, but then was nearly derailed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a registered independent. Trump, meanwhile, has generated a civil war in the Republican Party, due largely to his uncivil rhetoric, tweets and behavior.
While Trump rails against big government and the debt, analyses of his economic plan indicate the red ink would significantly increase with proposals that favor tax cuts for the wealthy and more trickle-down economics. We saw this movie during the second Bush administration, and the outcome wasn’t pretty.
His business record is littered with too many failures, lawsuits and bankruptcies. His temperament is lacking. […]
We don’t endorse, but we do worry. Our fear is governing will be even more difficult with both political parties more desperate than ever after this fiasco without any lessons learned and leadership lacking at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The Sioux City Journal
I can’t remember a presidential election when the Journal did not endorse the Republican candidate. The newspaper leans toward the GOP in most down-ticket races as well. But Trump was too much for the editors to stomach, as they informed readers on October 30:
When we endorse a candidate, we are telling our readers we, after a process of thorough research and discussion, believe this individual is right for this office, and we explain why. In our view, an endorsement should be for one candidate, not simply against the other candidate or candidates. […]
Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump – according to polls, the two most disliked presidential nominees in American history, with disapproval ratings among likely voters of between 50 and 60 percent – will be the 45th president of the United States, but we neither believe in nor can we, with honesty and in good conscience, recommend and build the case for either of them.
As a result, we offer no endorsement in the race for president this year. […]
We endorsed the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state before the Iowa caucuses, but the endorsement was lukewarm, based on the belief she was a stronger choice as nominee for Democrats in the state than was Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley. However, her negatives have grown too substantive for us to ignore in making a decision on a general-election endorsement for president. […]
Trump lacks the character, integrity and temperament we have come to expect from our president. While we may agree with him on some issues – some domestic economic issues and illegal immigration, for example – we can’t, in making a decision on an endorsement for president, overlook these troubling flaws in the man.
The Storm Lake Times
Art Cullen is one of Iowa’s best editorial writers, and his weekly newspaper was among the first in the state to endorse Clinton this year, way back in early August.
We have heard enough and seen enough of Steve King and Donald Trump.
Hillary Clinton must be elected President of the United States.
Anybody but Trump.
Clinton was not our first choice. Joe Biden was. Like most Americans, we share a vague uneasiness with the idea of the Clintons reoccupying the White House. We still have a sour taste from President Bill Clinton lying to us straight into the TV camera. That distrust is worn by Hillary Clinton as a yoke that may yet weigh her down, whether fair or not.
We have spent the past several years listening to our neighbors be debased as drug runners and criminals when in truth they are working two shifts in the packinghouse trying to provide for their children. It is corrosive to the soul of a community to hear it from our own congressman. It is repulsive to hear Trump ape the same diatribe with such cynicism.
The Daily Iowan
Iowa’s largest student newspaper supported Bernie Sanders before the Iowa caucuses but had no trouble settling on Clinton for the general election:
Clinton is by no means perfect — in fact, far from it. But she possesses qualities other candidates simply do not: experience, a proven track record, the correct disposition for the Oval Office, and the policies to back it all up.
The DI Editorial Board believes that many factors push Clinton to the top of the pile. But five major policy points in particular have broad impacts on this election: the economy, education, the environment, race relations, and national security. […]
Trump’s campaign is tailored for the lowest common denominator, pandering to the gullible and the hateful. Trump uses scare tactics and sensationalism backed not by facts but by intense rhetoric to entice voters. Catch phrases like “bad hombres” and “nasty woman” aside, there are reasons to support Trump. He makes big promises to his followers and finds support due in part to the success he has achieved in business.
But do not forget, Trump’s campaign is dangerous.
The Iowa State Daily
Iowa State University’s student body is markedly more conservative than the University of Iowa’s, and the campus newspaper did not endorse either Obama or Romney in 2012. But this year, the editorial board found the choice “obvious”:
Throughout his unusual and divisive campaign, Trump has managed to insult nearly every demographic.
From war heroes to people of faith, Trump has founded his short political career on ostracizing minorities, lying about his opponents and engaging in juvenile, often vulgar rhetoric.
Not only does he lack the temperament to be president, but his failed meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as well as his ridiculous outlook on foreign policy put our country at a diplomatic disadvantage.
For a candidate who has built the positive aspects of his campaign around his knowledge of business and plan to strengthen the U.S economy, it is horrifying that he refuses to respond when his vague economic plan is torn to pieces by even the most conservative of economists.
Furthermore, his refusal to accept the outcome of the election if it doesn’t turn out in his favor is the pinnacle of his anti-American, anti-democratic joke of a campaign. […]
Clinton is far and away the best choice. She represents an America that provides for its citizens, one that accepts others for their differences and embraces cultural and religious diversity.
She is respected and admired by our allies and has consistently fought for the rights of women and minorities throughout the world. And when it comes to a contest between experience and rhetoric, experience should always win.
FINAL WEEKEND UPDATE: Trump appears to be on track to win Iowa’s six electoral votes, but he still hasn’t won over any major newspaper.
The Ames Tribune
Choosing a candidate was not a close call for the editors.
We believe Hillary Clinton is best qualified to lead our country for the next four years.
Her experience gives her a strong edge in both domestic and foreign policy, and her effectiveness in the Senate should give her insights into the inner workings of Congress, and how, hopefully, to get things done.
Yes, she comes with baggage, such as the much publicized email scandal, and we wish she could show a warmer, and more personable side, but those are minor flaws compared to the alternative.
Trump is utterly unsuited and unqualified to be president. […]
We acknowledge controversy surrounding Clinton may also cause distractions and interfere with progress, but her experience and general competence is far beyond that of Trump, and she is our clear choice to be our next president.
The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil
The editors of this normally conservative newspaper became the third major Iowa publication to refuse to endorse a lesser evil:
Republican Donald Trump has unleashed a long line of hateful, misogynist and bigoted ideas and acts that have no place in the White House, much less anywhere in American politics. And that’s before considering his questionable business activities, admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin or his disastrous views on trade and foreign policy that would put both the United States and its foreign allies at risk.
Unlike Trump, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton certainly has the resume for the job. Her flaws, though not in the same league as Trump’s, concern us to the point where we are unable to endorse her. Clinton’s use of a private email server to skirt the Freedom of Information Act and concerns about “pay to play” at the Clinton Foundation give us pause about her ability to lead in transparent and fair manner.
Of the third-party options, Libertarian Gary Johnson had a chance to be a player and earned a couple of endorsements from larger newspapers. The only true conservative running, his gubernatorial experience was a plus, but the complete lack of foreign policy knowledge he displayed during interviews is of grave concern for a possible commander-in-chief. […]
Given the red flags displayed by all candidates, we place that decision for the highest office in the land in your hands. Unfortunately, we don’t feel we can endorse any of them.
You’ll rarely find a better example of “false equivalencies” in mainstream media than saying we can’t pick a candidate because on the one hand, Trump is bigoted and would put the country at risk, but on the other hand, Clinton might not be transparent enough.