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Breaking With Tradition, Ariz. Paper Backs Democrat Hillary Clinton

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have the editor of The Arizona Republic on the line. Her newspaper went 126 years without endorsing a Democrat for president in a general election - 126 years until now because The Arizona Republic has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Nicole Carroll is the editor's name. Welcome to the program.

NICOLE CARROLL: Thank you.

INSKEEP: What's wrong with Donald Trump?

CARROLL: (Laughter) You know, we believe that Clinton has the temperament and experience to be president. She's got the record of public service as first lady, senator and secretary of state. She's dealt with decades of scrutiny. And Trump hasn't even let people scrutinize his tax returns. And we know she's got flaws, but despite that, we think she is the best candidate.

INSKEEP: Was there something that made you decide to do this now in the middle of this particular week?

CARROLL: You know, we had been talking about this for a while. We've had the editorial or versions of it written. But we continue to evaluate and to evolve as we watch the campaign.

And we really wanted to make it past the first debate. We wanted to watch them on that stage. We wanted to see how they handled themselves, their knowledge, their temperament. And that really solidified it for us that Hillary Clinton was by far the best candidate.

INSKEEP: When you look back at your experience watching that debate, was there a moment with this potential endorsement in mind that you said, yeah, that's it?

CARROLL: You know, again, we've been pretty consistent. So this is how we were tracking. But in the debate, his just - you know, his lack of knowledge, his - he just wasn't prepared. He couldn't answer simple questions. Some of the answers, you know, were frankly unintelligible. And that's just not what we can have in a president of the United States.

INSKEEP: I want to ask about another decision that's been made by a Republican leader. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, has been on this program talking about his decision to endorse Donald Trump despite his great many differences with Donald Trump.

And his argument is simply I'm a Republican, I favor Republican policies. I think that if we can pass Republican legislation through the House and through the Senate, Donald Trump will sign more of it than Hillary Clinton will.

CARROLL: And that's his choice. You know, we felt - we, again, have been strongly Republican for 126 years. But, you know, it had to change this year. There's too much at stake. We had to take a stand on principle that Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States.

INSKEEP: There are a lot of conservatives who have said Hillary Clinton will sign legislation we don't like. Hillary Clinton will appoint Supreme Court justices that we as conservatives or we as Republicans don't like. You must have considered that argument and decided what you thought about it on your way to endorsing Secretary Clinton?

CARROLL: We did look at that argument. But frankly, we think that Donald Trump is dangerous. And we think the havoc that could ensue from his presidency is worse than the consequences of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

INSKEEP: How have your readers responded so far?

CARROLL: You know, we've had a lot of emails and phone calls, lots of tweets and messages on Facebook. Primarily, people are not happy with us. This is a very red state, even though it's now actually a tossup state. We recently did a poll here at The Republic that showed the candidates are neck-and-neck. And so the state is changing.

But, you know, we do have a conservative heritage. So we've - we're getting a lot of angry phone calls this morning. We're getting some positive ones too of, thank you for taking a stand, we know that's not easy to do in a red state like Arizona.

INSKEEP: Has anybody canceled their subscription?

CARROLL: You know, we're getting threats of that. It's still early here in Arizona. I'm sure that will happen. We've actually - another pleasant surprise, we've had several people say they are restarting their subscriptions to the paper. And frankly, that is their right. That's their prerogative. Again, our goal is to educate and empower. And people can do with that what they will.

INSKEEP: Is this a Republican paper because it was family-owned and it was a Republican family? It's been, according to tradition, even though a corporation owns you now, that it's been a Republican paper.

CARROLL: It's been a Republican paper since our founding. We started off as The Arizona Republican, so it's from the very first nameplate it's been a Republican-leaning paper.

INSKEEP: Oh, and then somebody took a couple of letters off?

CARROLL: (Laughter) Exactly.

INSKEEP: But it remained Republican all the way through until now?

CARROLL: All the way through until now. And, you know, I have to tell you though, if you look at our other endorsements in other races, they are still definitely leaning conservative. So it's not that the paper has changed, it's that this election is so different than any other we've faced.

INSKEEP: Well, Nicole Carroll of The Arizona Republic, formerly Republican, thanks very much.

CARROLL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.