Tribune Passes On Trump, Endorses Libertarian Presidential Candidate

(CBS) — Even in this bizarre political year, this one came as a stunner: the rock-solid Republican Chicago Tribune has endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson for president.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports.

It’s a newspaper that’s always been a voice for Republican values.

“You could make an argument that our first big endorsement was a third party candidate, a guy named Abraham Lincoln,” editorial page editor John McCormick says.

Presidential Candidate Governor Gary Johnson and Michael Smerconish attends the SiriusXM Libertarian Presidential Forum at the National Constitution Center September 12, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bill McCay/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Presidential Candidate Governor Gary Johnson and Michael Smerconish attends the SiriusXM Libertarian Presidential Forum at the National Constitution Center September 12, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bill McCay/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

But even back then, Honest Abe had more stature than the Libertarian the Trib backed Friday: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

“For all those Americans who say I’m not going to feel good about going into the voting booth and picking Mr. Trump or Secretary Hillary Clinton, here’s another option,” McCormick says.

Johnson famously failed when asked about foreign affairs. In one instance, he was lost when asked about “Alleppo,” a reference to Syria.

The Tribune dismissed those gaffes.

“I don’t find it disqualifying. I find it kind of human,” McCormick says.

Even if Johnson surges, it’s unclear who benefits.

“Usually the Democrats cheer on the Libertarian because usually it peels more votes off the Republican. But in this election, there was just a news report that said Hillary’s thinking about attacking Gary Johnson because he’s stealing votes from her. So, the whole math is scrambled in this year’s election,” GOP consultant Chip Englander says.

Libertarians argue Johnson might be better known if he was in the presidential debates, but he stands  around 6 percent in the polls, with 15 per cent needed to qualify.

Meantime, the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday endorsed Hillary Clinton.

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