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'Detroit News' Endorses Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson


For the first time in its 143-year history, The Detroit News has endorsed someone other than a Republican for president. This morning the paper's editorial board backed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. The board called Donald Trump unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. Hillary Clinton, they said, struggles with honesty and ethics.

Joining us now to talk about this decision is Ingrid Jacques, deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News. Welcome to the program.

INGRID JACQUES: Thank you very much.

SHAPIRO: So we've heard why you're not endorsing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Why are you endorsing Gary Johnson?

JACQUES: Well, given the choices that we had, we decided to take a bit of a risk and make our endorsement for Gary Johnson. And he's much more closely aligned with our values as an editorial board.

SHAPIRO: On issues of trade and so on.

JACQUES: Exactly. I mean he's the only candidate that supports the TPP. That's the...

SHAPIRO: The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal - yeah.

JACQUES: Yes. He's got a good stance on immigration and education. So he's very strong on domestic policy.

SHAPIRO: He's had a couple of high-profile stumbles in his campaign. Last month on an interview on MSNBC, he was asked what he would do about the Syrian city of Aleppo, and he replied, what is Aleppo? And then last night he was again on MSNBC with his running mate Bill Weld sitting next to him. Chris Matthews hosted a town hall, and let's listen to this.


CHRIS MATTHEWS: Who's your favorite foreign leader?

GARY JOHNSON: Who's my favorite?

MATTHEWS: Any - just name anywhere in the - anyone in the continents, any country. Name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to - anybody.

BILL WELD: I'm with Shimon Peres.

MATTHEWS: No, no, OK...

SHAPIRO: That was his running mate.


MATTHEWS: Go ahead.


MATTHEWS: You got to do this - anywhere, any continent - Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there, Asia, South America, Africa. Name a foreign leader that you respect.

JOHNSON: I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment in the former president of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: But I'm giving you the whole world.

JOHNSON: I know. I know. I know. I know.

MATTHEWS: Anybody in the world you like - anybody. Pick any leader.

JOHNSON: The former...


JOHNSON: ...President of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: Which one?

SHAPIRO: He struggled for the name, and ultimately his running mate, Bill Weld, gave him the name Vicente Fox. Ingrid Jacques, what do you make of that?

JACQUES: (Laughter) Well, it's unfortunate timing as far as our endorsement coming out today. But we spoke with him. He gave us a good enough answer that - on foreign policy to give us the confidence that he would do well if he were in office. He's not going to back out on any longstanding commitments or treaties. He's pro-NATO. I wish he were quicker on his feet. It must be an MSNBC curse or something. I don't know.

SHAPIRO: I get the sense that you are endorsing him with some resignation and maybe some hesitation even.

JACQUES: Of the three candidates we were looking at, we're confident he's the best choice for our editorial board. And we know that's a decision that surprised, even disappointed some of our readers. But this should be a vote of conscience, and we couldn't support Trump or Clinton with the same enthusiasm.

SHAPIRO: In this editorial, you write that three times in the paper's history the paper has chosen not to endorse anyone - twice during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt years and during the 2004 Bush-Kerry election. Did you consider doing that at this time?

JACQUES: We definitely did. But in the end, we wanted to make a proactive endorsement, so we thought there was enough to like about Gary Johnson to support him.

SHAPIRO: Ingrid Jacques is deputy editorial page editor of The Detroit News. Today the paper broke its 143-year tradition of backing a Republican for president with the endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson. Ms. Jacques, thank you for joining us.

JACQUES: Thanks for having me on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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