The Slatest

Ahead of Trump Campaign Kickoff, Local Orlando Paper Offers Presidential Endorsement 17 Months Before Election

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up from inside a fire engine, while Mike Pence stands by.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Donald Trump set to host a campaign kickoff rally in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night, the local paper the Orlando Sentinel is already up with perhaps the earliest presidential endorsement of the year: not Donald Trump. “After 2½ years we’ve seen enough,” the editorial reads. “Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

“Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency,” the non-endorsement endorsement says. “Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.”

This non-endorsement isn’t defaulting to whomever the Democrats choose. This newspaper has a history of presidential appointments favoring Republicans starting in the mid-20th century. Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush.

As recently as 2012 we recommended Republican Mitt Romney because of what seemed at the time to be Obama’s failure to adequately manage the nation’s finances.

If—however unlikely—a Republican like Romney, now a senator from Utah, or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich successfully primaried the president, we would eagerly give them a look. Same if an independent candidate mounted a legitimate campaign.

We’d even consider backing Trump if, say, he found the proverbial cure for cancer or—about as likely—changed the essence of who he is (he won’t).

The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that.

We can do better. We have to do better.

Let’s hope so.