Opinion: Sit down for this: Richard Scaife paper endorses Hillary Clinton

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ALLENTOWN, Pa.--The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, owned by longtime conservative Republican Richard Mellon Scaife, endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in Pennsylvania’s balloting on Tuesday.

The conservative newspaper’s endorsement raised some eyebrows given the, well, stormy history that the wealthy Scaife has had with the Clintons.

Allies of former President Clinton accused Scaife of bankrolling opposition reporting of the Clinton White House. His paper was a persistent critic of that president, especially during the Whitewater investigation, and Scaife was a presumed prominent member of what Hillary Clinton once called a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ trying to sink her husband’s administration.

Interesting, however, that the reaction of both Clinton politicians was to ultimately meet with their conservative critic, whatever their lingering personal feelings. Sen. Clinton has also appeared regularly on Fox News and Fox News Sunday, Democratic bete noires. As several recent Ticket posters have pointed out, ....

her opponent, Barack Obama, declines to appear on Fox, although he has said he’d meet with the president of Iran.


Scaife’s paper paid tribute to Clinton’s courage in its endorsement editorial today, saying her decision to sit down with the newspaper last month ‘was courageous given our longstanding criticism of her.’

‘That is no small matter: Political courage is essential in a president. Clinton has demonstrated it; Obama has not. She has a real record. He doesn’t. She has experience of value to a president. He doesn’t,’ the newspaper’s editorial endorsement added.

In contrast to Obama, the newspaper editorial said ‘Clinton is far more experienced in government--as an engaged first lady to a governor and a president, as a second-term senator in her own right. She has a real voting record on key issues. Agree with her or not, you at least know where she stands instead of being forced to wonder.’

The paper said an ex-state senator in his first U.S. Senate term was no match for Clinton. ‘Quite simply,’ the editorial added, ‘this is no portfolio for a president, the world’s most powerful leader. The presidency is no place for on-the-job training in the best of times -- and certainly not when the nation is at war, the economy is struggling, and federal governance in general is adrift.’

But some wonder if the Scaife paper’s endorsement is perhaps a backhanded push for Clinton in the way that Rush Limbaugh urged votes for her in the belief that she would be easier for Republicans to defeat in the fall.

The paper previously endorsed Sen. John McCain in the state’s Republican primary, where the Arizona senator’s only prominent opponent is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

In something of a surprise given Obama’s apparent strength among young voters, last week the student newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania, the Daily Pennsylvanian, also endorsed Clinton, also for her experience.

The Tribune-Review is the largest newspaper in Pennsylvania to endorse Clinton. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Scranton Times Tribune and the Tribune-owned Morning Call of Allentown all have endorsed Obama. (The Editorial Board of The Times, also Tribune-owned, endorsed Obama and McCain in the California primaries.)

--Rick Pearson and Andrew Malcolm

Rick Pearson writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau.