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By *Joe Strupp
Opinion editors at three major newspapers that have routinely endorsed Republicans for president -- dating back more than a century in some cases -- tell Media Matters they endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because Republican nominee Donald Trump is "frightening" and potentially "dangerous."
Political observers and veteran news experts, meanwhile, say such a dramatic move by longtime Republican-friendly publications could have a greater impact on the race than more expected endorsements.
"We have been traditionally considered a conservative newspaper, having endorsed Republicans for the last hundred years," said Cindi Andrews, editorial page editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, which endorsed Clinton on September 23. "For me personally, the two biggest concerns come down to temperament; how he would be on the world stage, his demeanor, his language he uses about citizens in our own country of different races and genders, as well as immigrants. It is fundamentally what we're about as Americans."
The Enquirer, owned by Gannett Company, had last endorsed a Democrat in 1916 when it backed Woodrow Wilson. Andrews said the five-member editorial board was unanimous in their choice, adding that a non-endorsement was not an option.
"We felt that fundamentally not endorsing in any race we are looking at is a pretty lame approach," she said. "Because somebody has to decide who the next president is and voters have to make a decision, it felt a like a dereliction of duty."
The Enquirer wasn't the first traditionally Republican paper to endorse Clinton. The Dallas Morning News ended 80 years of GOP presidential endorsements on September 7 when it backed Clinton.
"We had recommended John Kasich in the primary and were disappointed that his campaign didn't catch more fire," said Keven Ann Willey, Morning News editorial page editor since 2002 and a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. "Over that time Donald Trump just became more and more difficult to tolerate. The thought of him as the leader of our country just became anathema. On issues ranging from immigration to foreign relations to tax policy, it was hard to find much to align with him on. He is really not a conservative, he is a Republican of convenience."
Willey said the nine-member editorial board was unanimous in their choice of Clinton, another unusual occurrence.
"It was a long and deliberative process," she said, adding that opposition to Trump was based on many things such as his "name-calling of people and groups of people and the tone, the ramifications of that are just frightening."
The most recent and perhaps most surprising case was the Arizona Republic, which gave Clinton the nod this week. That marked the first time it had endorsed a Democrat in its history, which dates back to 1890 went it launched as the Arizona Republican.
Editorial Page Editor Phil Boas said the nine-member editorial board began criticizing Trump nearly a year ago.
For him, the tide started to turn against Trump when Trump supporters "started kicking and punching" a protester at a rally in Birmingham, AL, in November 2015 and Trump yelled, "get him the hell out of here." Trump later doubled down on his rhetoric in an interview the same week, telling Fox News, "maybe he should have been roughed up."
"That's when I sat down and wrote an editorial that these are sort of the ominous base notes of authoritarianism," said Boas, an admitted lifelong conservative Republican. "It was a sign and alarm that this guy might be dangerous."