New Hampshire’s largest newspaper made a historic announcement Sunday, when the traditionally conservative paper endorsed Joe Biden for president, marking the first time in a century that it has backed a Democrat.
The New Hampshire Union Leader, the most widely circulated paper in the Granite State, endorsed only Republican candidates for more than 100 years, until 2016 when it backed libertarian Gary Johnson, calling Donald Trump at the time a "liar, a bully, a buffoon," and then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "a selfish, self-centered, sanctimonious prig."
Given the paper's track record, Sunday's endorsement came as a surprise to many.
Political analyst Scott Spradling says the paper’s publisher has made it clear this is less about policy and more about the person.
“Joe McQuaid has consistently said as publisher and the person who calls the shots on the editorial page, that he is a man who looks for a candidate with character,” Spradling says.
While the editorial cited judicial appointments, tax policy and support for gun rights as "admirable accomplishments" by the president, it took issue with the increase in national debt and the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
"President Trump is not always 100% wrong, but he is 100% wrong for America," the editorial said. "We may be turning a corner with this virus, but the corner we turned is down a dark alley of record infections and deaths. Mr. Trump is a self-proclaimed expert on a wide variety of topics, but when pushed on basic topics he doesn’t want to discuss, he very quickly feigns ignorance."
The 2020 editorial dubbed the president as the "antithesis of thoughtful and pragmatic."
"America faces many challenges and needs a president to build this country up. This appears to be outside of Mr. Trump’s skill set," the editorial said.
The Union Leader went on to acknowledge significant policy differences with Biden, but called him a compassionate and professional public servant, writing, “Biden may not be the president we want, but in 2020 he is the president we desperately need.”
Spradling also notes that while the endorsement is a big boost for Biden, it’s not a ticket to victory in New Hampshire.
“In fact, over the years. they have picked candidates that have not won primaries or general elections,” Spradling said about the paper. “You still have to fight for it here in the Granite State.”
It's also worth noting that the uncharacteristic endorsement came with an asterisk.
In the editorial -- "Our choice is Joe Biden*" -- the paper said it would be irresponsible to put Biden in the White House without a backstop, encouraging voters to elect a “healthy dose of GOP senators and representatives" to prevent a blue wave that they say could prove to be as disastrous as four more years of a Trump presidency.