Newt Gingrich: Union Leader endorsement a big boost in New Hampshire
In a front page editorial Sunday, New Hampshire's prominent statewide Union Leader newspaper endorsed Newt Gingrich. It's a big boost for Gingrich and a blow to Mitt Romney, currently leading in polls.
Romney, who holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire polling, is still the man to beat there. But the Union Leader’s rejection of his candidacy is a blow nonetheless – particularly since Gingrich has vaulted past his GOP rivals to claim neck-and-neck status with Romney in national Republican polls as well as likely-voter surveys in other states.
The newspaper’s endorsement – spread across the top of the front page in the Sunday edition and signed by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid – carries a granite-like tone typical of a publication prominent in Republican politics. Four years ago, its endorsement of John McCain helped propel McCain past Romney to a win in New Hampshire and to his party’s nomination.
"We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing," the newspaper wrote in its editorial.
"We don't back candidates based on popularity polls or big-shot backers,” the paper declared in obvious reference to Romney. “We look for conservatives of courage and conviction who are independent-minded, grounded in their core beliefs about this nation and its people, and best equipped for the job.”
"We don't have to agree with them on every issue," the newspaper wrote about Gingrich, some of whose positions (on immigration, for example) have rankled conservatives. "We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear."
Writes Maggie Haberman at Politico.com: “It's the most significant and impactful endorsement in the GOP race so far, and solidifies Gingrich's standing as the alternative to Romney as the race heads into the final pre-Iowa caucuses stretch.”
While the Union Leader’s endorsement shakes things up, Romney remains the clear front-runner in New Hampshire, a state where he owns a home and where he’s well-known because of his time as governor of neighboring Massachusetts.