The New Hampshire Union Leader, an influential conservative stalwart in the home of the critical first presidential primary, broke with the 100-plus-year-old tradition of backing the GOP nominee for president, and announced in a front-page editorial Wednesday its endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld. “They would be worth considering under many circumstances. In today’s dark times, they are a bright light of hope and reason,” the paper’s publisher Joseph W. McQuaid wrote in the signed editorial.
The paper has been highly critical of Trump and Wednesday’s editorial was no different. “The man is a liar, a bully, a buffoon,” the editorial read. “He denigrates any individual or group that displeases him. He has dishonored military veterans and their families, made fun of the physically frail, and changed political views almost as often as he has changed wives.”
The paper sparred with Trump throughout the primary process and endorsed Trump rival turned supporter Chris Christie in the GOP primary in February. “Trump has shown himself to be a crude blowhard with no clear political philosophy and no deeper understanding of the important and serious role of President of the United States than one of the goons he lets rough up protesters in his crowds,” the paper wrote in the Christie endorsement. Accompanying the article was a picture of Biff Tannen, the bully from Back to the Future, alongside a picture of Trump. Trump responded as only he could calling it a “very dishonest newspaper” and the “lap dog” of Chris Christie. Trump was also the only Republican candidate to skip a candidate forum organized by the paper last July after it published a scathing editorial of Trump for his criticism of John McCain’s war record. Trump ultimately won New Hampshire by 19 points; Chris Christie finished sixth.
The Union Leader’s endorsement clearly was unable to dent the Trump whirlwind, but New Hampshire is a swing state in the general election and while the polling has consistently favored Hillary Clinton in head-to-head matchups, the race has tightened. A poll taken a week ago showed Gary Johnson with significant support, registering 15 percent of the vote. Clinton came in with 39 percent and Trump 37 percent.