Do not vote for 'demagogue' Trump, USA Today tells its readers

September 29, 2016 8:39 PM EDT

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S. September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Branding Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," USA Today on Thursday urged its readers not to vote for the Republican presidential candidate, but added that it was not endorsing his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton either.

The national newspaper said in an editorial that it had never taken sides in U.S. presidential elections in its 34-year history, but was abandoning the practice because the New York real estate developer was unfit for the presidency.

It went on to list and expand on eight reasons for its stance, including: "He is ill-equipped to be commander in chief," "He traffics in prejudice," and "He’s a serial liar."

"Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements typically range from uninformed to incoherent," the editorial said.

In an opinion piece on the USA Today website, Trump's running mate Mike Pence wrote that the New York businessman was "thoughtful, compassionate and steady... I know he is ready to lead the United States as our next president and commander in chief."

Trump and Clinton are locked in a close race for the Nov. 8 election. A majority of Americans say Clinton won their first presidential debate on Monday, according to a Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll.

USA Today, published by Gannett Co Inc, said its editorial board was divided on Clinton, and some of the reservations about the former secretary of state centered on her "sense of entitlement, her lack of candor and her extreme carelessness in handling classified information."

Urging voters to stay true to their convictions, USA Today said: "Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump."

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Bill Rigby)

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