Presidential debate

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at her first presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Hempstead, N.Y., on Monday.

Photo by Melina Mara, The Washington Post

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, what is right is not always popular.

For our newspaper — a historically conservative voice in a conservative, Republican region of arguably the reddest state in the union — endorsing a Democrat for president is truly an exception.

But this is not a routine campaign. In fact, Nov. 8 will see the most crucial presidential election race in contemporary American history.

Realistically, we have only two candidates for president, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, though other names will appear on the ballot. As has been demonstrated time and again in recent months, Trump does not have the skills, experience or temperament to hold office. For voters, Clinton is the only reasonable choice.

We have policy disagreements with Clinton, but she is competent and capable of handling the incredible responsibility of being our nation’s commander in chief and leader of the free world. She has a record of public service as a senator, secretary of state and first lady. She has the temperament and experience to be president.

She has supported protecting U.S. interests and national security, having played a key advisory role in the mission to go after Osama bin Laden. She is smart on trade, wants to grow the middle class, and is focused on creating jobs and growing the economy.

Clinton is not without fault. She mishandled the controversy over her private email server while secretary of state, as well as her initial statements on the terrorist raid on the U.S. post in Benghazi. She should have put a firewall between the Clinton Foundation and her office to avoid the perception of donors buying access.

However, her flaws pale in comparison with the irresponsible conduct demonstrated by Trump during the campaign. For several critical reasons, we believe he is unfit to be president.

Trump berates a Gold Star family who lost their son in the Iraq war, suggests all Muslims should be banned from entering the United States, demeans women who criticize him, describes our foreign trade agreements as “stupid,” launches into name-calling when he is called on his factual errors and lies, and boasts about being “smart” in running up huge business debt and avoiding federal income taxes. He refuses to release his tax returns, rebuking a tradition of presidential candidates of both major parties since 1976. His vainglorious performance has many partisan Republicans aghast.

Our country faces critical domestic issues such as immigration, health care, national security, economic inequality, the growing deficit, racial discrimination and distrust in the criminal justice system that are dividing our country.

We cannot support Trump’s penchant for insulting people of a different race, religion or gender, including the 2005 recording of his lewd remarks about pushing himself on women and kissing and groping them. His lack of knowledge, reckless comments and outrageous statements, later brushed off as sarcasm, could become a serious threat to national security if he were to be commander in chief.

Bluntly, Donald Trump isn’t qualified to be president.

We understand the sentiment of Trump supporters who are fed up with government gridlock, blunders, giveaways and perceived weakness. Distaste for the status quo is nonpartisan. Disenfranchised Democrats also tapped into this view, catapulting Sen. Bernie Sanders to win their party’s primary in Oklahoma.

In our state’s primary, we endorsed Marco Rubio as the stronger GOP candidate with the best chance to win the general election. But Rubio lost and Trump was selected to represent the Republican Party.

Traditionally, the Enid News & Eagle endorses Republicans for president. This newspaper supports conservative values such as less intrusive government, energy independence, fiscal responsibility, free enterprise, prioritization of national defense and more local control in our schools, businesses and lives.

On those policies, we find areas of agreement and disagreement with Clinton. But we don’t elect policies, we elect people, and the person we need to elect is Hillary Clinton.

Ours is not the only conservative newspaper editorial board with a tradition of supporting GOP candidates to now endorse Clinton. The Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and San Diego Union-Tribune have endorsed her, as well.

Clinton has her flaws, but she also has the experience and knowledge to lead our nation. Her record of public service and detailed knowledge of the colossal issues that our nation confronts make her our choice to become our 45th president.

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