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Orlando Sentinel endorses 'not Donald Trump' for president ahead of reelection kickoff

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Hours before President Trump was due to hold a rally in Orlando billed as the kickoff to his reelection campaign, the Orlando Sentinel announced who it is endorsing for president in 2020: not Donald Trump.

“Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent,” the paper said in a scathing editorial on Tuesday. “Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.”

The Sentinel has mostly endorsed Republicans since 1960, but in recent years it has been more independent, backing Democrats in 2004 (John Kerry over George W. Bush), 2008 (Barack Obama over John McCain) and 2016 (Hillary Clinton over Trump). It endorsed Republican Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012.

President Trump in Canal Point, Fla., in March. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

But Trump’s erratic behavior and petulant, dishonest statements in office pushed the Sentinel to its non-endorsement.

“After 2 1/2 years we’ve seen enough,” the editorial board said. “Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.”

The Sentinel pointed to the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” a database that has documented more than 10,000 false or misleading claims made by Trump since he took office.

“There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career,” the Sentinel said. “Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t). Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t).”

The editorial was published to coincide with Trump’s Tuesday night rally at Orlando’s Amway Center. On Monday night, hundreds of people began lining up outside the arena, which has a capacity of about 20,000.

Earlier Monday, Trump tweeted that there had been more than 100,000 ticket requests for the rally, which will also include first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence. He has held dozens of rallies around the country since his inauguration and filed paperwork for his reelection just hours after being sworn in.

Supporters of President Trump, seen here Monday, were lined up more than 24 hours before his rally in Orlando. (Photo: John Raoux/AP)

Trump said there would be “large movie screens” and food trucks to accommodate those who do not make it inside.

On Tuesday, he complained that the media refuses to report that “Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high.”

“Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar),” Trump tweeted.

The president didn’t indicate which musician he was comparing his popularity to.

“Going to be wild,” he added. “See you later!”

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