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Stop the presses! A tally of newspaper endorsements for president

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are beginning to collect endorsements from major US newspapers. Some are full-throated, others tentative. In metropolitan areas, they could make a difference in the race.

NOTE: This story has been updated with new endorsements added late Saturday.

In today’s media world – increasingly crowded with online sources of news, analysis, commentary, and opinionated bloggers – newspaper endorsements may not mean as much as they did when “the press” almost exclusively involved actual ink on paper.

But they’re watched closely nonetheless, and around the country newspapers are starting to weigh in on the major presidential candidates in Election 2012.

According to a tally of the top 100 newspapers by circulation by the American Presidency Project, Mitt Romney has collected five endorsements so far, and Obama has six. (The American Presidency Project is a nonpartisan online database of presidential messages, papers, documents, and other information.)

Romney’s newspaper supporters: The Dallas Morning News, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Orlando Sentinel, The Omaha World-Herald, and The [Nashville] Tennessean. Their total circulation is 1,053,356. Two of Romney’s backers – the Orlando and Nashville newspapers – endorsed Obama four years ago.

Obama has notched The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The Sacramento Bee, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Salt Lake Tribune. On Sunday, The Denver Post will endorse Obama as well. (Adding Denver’s main paper brings the total circulation for papers backing Obama to 1,458,545.)

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There undoubtedly will be many more newspaper endorsements before Election Day. In 2008, according to the American Presidency Project, there were 90 such endorsements, including 65 for Obama with a circulation of 16,099,774, and 25 for Republican John McCain with a circulation of 5,193,750.

Here’s a sampling of the endorsement editorials so far.

The Salt Lake Tribune:

“Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah. The Republican nominee’s political and religious pedigrees, his adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state…. Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: ‘Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?’ ”

The Orlando Sentinel:

“We have little confidence that Obama would be more successful managing the economy and the budget in the next four years. For that reason, though we endorsed him in 2008, we are recommending Romney in this race…. With Obama in charge, the federal government came perilously close to a default last year. Now it's lurching toward another crisis with the impending arrival of massive tax hikes and spending cuts on Jan. 1…. But the core of Romney's campaign platform, his five-point plan, at least shows he understands that reviving the economy and repairing the government's balance sheet are imperative – now, not four years in the future. Romney has a strong record of leadership to run on. He built a successful business. He rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics from scandal and mismanagement. As governor of Massachusetts, he worked with a Democrat-dominated legislature to close a $3 billion budget deficit without borrowing or raising taxes, and pass the health plan that became a national model. This is Romney's time to lead, again. If he doesn't produce results – even with a hostile Senate – we'll be ready in 2016 to get behind someone else who will.”

The Denver Post:

“As President Barack Obama campaigns for re-election, it would be a stretch to say we are bullish on the entirety of his first term. There have been notable accomplishments: rescuing the nation's auto industry, passing comprehensive (though contentious) health-care reform, and delivering justice to Osama bin Laden. But those accomplishments are juxtaposed against a sluggish economy and less impressive performances in tackling the federal debt and deficits, reducing unemployment and bolstering the housing market…. though there is much in Mitt Romney's résumé to suggest he is a capable problem-solver, the Republican nominee has not presented himself as a leader who will bring his party closer to the center at a time when that is what this country needs. His comments on the 47 percent of Americans who refuse to ‘take personal responsibility and care for their lives’ were a telling insight into his views and a low point of the campaign. Obama, on the other hand, has shown throughout his term that he is a steady leader who keeps the interests of a broad array of Americans in mind.”

 The Omaha World-Herald:

“President Obama’s election and his presidency have been historic. He is a black man who was elected by a solid majority to lead a nation with a history of racism. He ended a war begun on false pretenses that took thousands of American lives. He made it possible for gays to serve openly and honorably in the military. He eliminated the man responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. However, for all his efforts, ranging from the stimulus package to green-energy development, to bring us out of recession, he has never found the key. He has generally made poor choices of the people needed to get the job done, such as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. And the number of jobs created during his term simply has not kept up with demand…. Gov. Romney: This endorsement was not an easy decision. You owe the American people more details about how you will keep taxes low, preserve social programs and build up the military, all while reducing the debt. You must be your own man, and not kowtow to special interests whose millions helped propel you to the Republican nomination. Be the man who governed Massachusetts, and you’ll reunite America.”

Go here for the latest list of major newspaper endorsements.

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