Orlando Sentinel announces its endorsement for president: Not Trump

Hours before Donald Trump was set to formally announce his 2020 bid for the White House in Orlando, Florida, the region's primary newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel, took a rare step to announce which candidate it's not endorsing. 

"We're here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we're not endorsing: Donald Trump," the editorial board of the Sentinel wrote in a scathing op-ed piece.

The announcement came as hundreds of Trump supporters were lining up outside the Amway Center in Orlando, where the president is set to appear for his campaign kick-off rally on Tuesday night.  

With 17 months before the presidential election, the paper acknowledged some may find it premature to take a stance on a candidate so early in the race.

"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 wrote, "Because there's no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump." 

It added, "After 2½ years we've seen enough."

The paper then went on to give reasons behind its decision, listing "the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption," and said especially troubling was what it called his frequent and "successful assault on truth."

"So many lies from white lies to whoppers told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity," the paper wrote.

The Sentinel also pointed to what it called "his war on decency" and said that his actions have lowered the U.S.'s standing in the world.

"He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies," the editorial board wrote.

The paper criticized the president's policies here at home too, blasting the actions he's taken on immigration policies. 

"... the president's signature issue immigration has moved in fits and starts. Happily, he abandoned pursuing an outright and unconstitutional ban on Muslims entering the U.S., opting instead to restrict travel for people from a handful of nations, most of them majority Muslim."

"He's tried separating families, sending troops to the border and declaring a national emergency. For all of that, illegal border crossings are, as the president himself calls it, at crisis levels."

The paper also took a jab at Trump's supporters and noted that Trump's base has remained steadfastly loyal. It wrote that the president's capacity for lying was not the most surprising part of it all, but what was remarkable it said, was "the tolerance so many Americans have for it."

However recent polls, including those by the president's own campaign, have showed him trailing Democratic front-runner Joe Biden in Florida and other key states including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

Trump supporters reacted to the op-ed piece saying that the show of support at Trump's re-election rally on Tuesday will demonstrate how popular he is in Florida. 

“'We the people' are 100% behind trump,"  David Joyner commented on Twitter.

Despite the Sentinel's endorsement for then Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, the paper said it has long had a history of backing GOP candidates. And it noted that its non-endorsement of the president does not mean an automatic default to the Democratic nominee.  

"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," the paper explained. 

But in this instance, the paper said it could not stand-by and recommend another four years of Donald Trump, as it closed the op-ed with, "We can do better. We have to do better."

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.