For the first time since 1940, the Dallas Morning News has endorsed a Democrat for president, telling readers in one of the nation's most reliably red states Wednesday that they ought to vote for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
The Morning News's conservative editorial board, joining dozens of high-profile Republicans in rejecting the GOP nominee and supporting his opponent, acknowledged that breaking a 19-election streak caused its members some heartburn, but the endorsement's opening sentence suggested they felt their choice was clear: "There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November."
The Morning News braced readers for its surprise move in an editorial Tuesday that declared "Donald Trump is not qualified to serve as president and does not deserve your vote." Still, the newspaper went far beyond a non-endorsement of Trump. What makes the Morning News's backing of Clinton so striking is how full-throated it was. The paper could have picked Clinton merely by process of elimination or even declined to endorse either candidate, as it did in the 1964 contest between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. Instead, the editorial board praised Clinton.
Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.
In Clinton's eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress' most conservative lawmakers.
As President Barack Obama's first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It's no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton. She also has the support of dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
The Dallas Morning News included the perfunctory caveats — the emails, the foundation, the avoidance of news conferences — but concluded that "her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent's." What's more, the paper slammed "political hyenas" who "refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups," even when investigations clear Clinton of alleged crimes.
The Morning News doesn't have much practice defending Democrats, but you wouldn't know it from this endorsement.
As with any newspaper endorsement, the impact is uncertain. Trump still seems certain to win Texas, although his single-digit lead there is slimmer than one might expect for a Republican. Mitt Romney won the state by 16 points in 2012.
But as signs of the times go, the Dallas Morning News backing a Democrat is pretty powerful.