Orlando Sentinel Endorses 'Not Donald Trump' Just Hours Before His Florida Rally

An editorial said "there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump" because “after 2½ years we’ve seen enough."

President Donald Trump has been bragging about early birds itching to attend his campaign rally Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida, but a least one sour note marks the gathering.

Just hours before the president is set to kick off his 2020 reelection campaign at the event, The Orlando Sentinel published a scathing editorial that endorses “Not Donald Trump.”

The newspaper, which is owned by the Tribune Publishing Co. and leans “right center” according to MediaBiasFactCheck.com, acknowledged that “some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.”

But the paper was blunt in its reasoning:

“Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

“After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

“Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

“So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.”

The editorial accuses Trump of diminishing “our standing in the world” by reneging on deals with allies, attacking those friendly nations and embracing enemies like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This nation must never forget that humiliating public moment in Helsinki in 2018 when the president of the United States chose to accept Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election over the unanimous assessment of the American intelligence community,” the editorial stated. ”Such a betrayal by a U.S. president would have been the unforgivable political sin in normal times.”

The Sentinel left open the glimmer of a prospect of reversing its stance. It might back Trump, the editorial said, “if, say, he found the proverbial cure for cancer or — about as likely — changed the essence of who he is (he won’t).”

Those unlikely scenarios aside, the paper said it won’t necessarily endorse whoever emerges from the crowded race among Democrats for that party’s presidential nomination. The paper pointed out that it typically has endorsed Republican candidates since 1952 ― the exceptions being Lyndon Johnson in 1964, John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The editorial added that if a Republican such as Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich defeated Trump in next year’s GOP primaries, “we would eagerly give them a look.” But the paper conceded such a successful challenge to Trump is unlikely (Kasich recently all but ruled out a presidential run next year.)

Florida, which has 29 electoral votes, has been the most competitive big state in recent presidential contests, and Trump, who long has maintained a residence there, considers it key to his reelection chances, according to Politico.

He won it by barely more than 1 percentage point in 2016. But internal polling taken by the president’s team in March showed him trailing in the state by 7 points to former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the Democratic race, according to ABC News.

When that news got out, the president sacked part of the team that did the polling.