The Orlando Sentinel officially endorsed candidate Pete Buttigieg for President on Friday, the same weekend the Democrat dropped out of the race.
The paper then published an explanation on Monday to justify their decision to endorse a candidate whose appeal was so narrow that even he knew he stood no chance.
“Our endorsement late last week of Pete Buttigieg in the Democratic primary wasn’t based on his polling or his momentum or his money,”
“It was based on our judgment that he was the best candidate to reunite a country being torn apart by Donald Trump. That his policies had a chance at passing Congress and wouldn’t plunge the country into even deeper debt. That he was the best hope of restoring dignity, decency and respect to the office of president.”
Yet the Sentinel’s excuse for their endorsement – their claim he was a “unity candidate” – was contradicted with Buttigieg’s own reasons for pulling out of the race.
According to the New York Times, Buttigieg pulled the plug because he was lagging behind other Democratic candidates in the voting threshold:
“After raising more than $76 million in 2019, an astonishing haul for a mayor with no national profile, Mr. Buttigieg spent nearly all his war chest in Iowa and New Hampshire. He faced campaigning coast-to-coast for Super Tuesday with evaporating funds and little chance of clearing the threshold of 15 percent of votes needed to amass delegates.”
“Mr. Buttigieg’s support in an average of national polls plateaued around 10 percent. That imperiled him as the race moved to the 14 Super Tuesday states, including California and Texas, where most delegates to the National Convention go only to candidates who win 15 percent in congressional districts and statewide.”
If it was obvious to Buttigieg that he couldn’t even win over 15 percent of his own party, how did the Sentinel expect him to unite the country?
Maybe they didn’t. The Sentinel even contradicted their own reasoning later in the same explainer piece, acknowledging he stood little chance to win:
“Buttigieg was a bit of a long shot, but not a moon shot. He had won the most delegates in Iowa and tied Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.Those successes weren’t enough for the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and the word got out Sunday evening that Buttigieg would drop out. Disappointing, but then came the speech announcing the end of his candidacy. It was a reminder of why we settled on Buttigieg as the best choice for Democrats.”
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) March 1, 2020
With Buttigieg dropping out just 48 hours before Super Tuesday, he will still be on ballots in every state, since they have already been printed. Countless mail-in ballots have also already been filled out and sent in, so it is likely the Democratic candidate will amass thousands of votes across all states tonight.
Like those fruitless votes cast for Buttigieg, the Orlando Sentinel’s endorsement serves as a lasting reminder for Floridians of the ineptitude of their hometown newspaper’s editorial staff. This latest episode underscores how out-of-touch they are about the chances that a candidate like Buttigieg could “renunite the country” when he couldn’t even muster support the minimal amount of support within his own party.