The New Hampshire Union Leader, New Hampshire's largest newspaper endorses Newt Gingrich for president:
America is at a crucial crossroads. It is not going to be enough to merely replace Barack Obama next year. We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing.
He did so with the Contract with America. He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic President. A lot of candidates say they're going to improve Washington. Newt Gingrich has actually done that, and in this race he offers the best shot of doing it again.
[. . .]
Truth be known, many in the liberal media are belittling the Republican candidates because they don't want any of them to be taken as a serious challenger to their man, Obama.
Readers of the Union Leader and Sunday News know that we don't back candidates based on popularity polls or big-shot backers. 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. We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.
Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate. But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running. In this incredibly important election, that candidate is Newt Gingrich. He has the experience, the leadership qualities and the vision to lead this country in these trying times. He is worthy of your support on January 10.
The endorsement gives former House Speaker Gingrich additional momentum, or as the Gingrich Campaign calls it "Newt-mentum," after he has climbed to the top of national GOP polls.
A Suffolk University/7News poll released last Tuesday found Romney leading with 41% of likely GOP voters surveyed. Gingrich was tied with Ron Paul for second with 14%.
Another poll by the American Research Group last week showed Gingrich closing the gap in New Hampshire but still trailing Romney by 11% -- 33% t0 22%.
The University of New Hampshire WMUR Granite State Poll, also released last week found that among likely New Hampshire Republican Primary voters prefer Romney 42% with Gingrich in second place with 15%.
Gingrich surged 18% between American Research Groups September and November polls, but David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center, says a Romney loss in New Hampshire is unlikely:
"Every Republican candidate that surges in the national polls hits a firewall in New Hampshire. We’ve seen this with surges from Bachmann, Perry, Cain and now Gingrich. A Romney loss here is highly improbable, and Romney’s best insurance policy in New Hampshire is Ron Paul, whose fixed support takes 14 percent off the table."
Mitt Romney's failure to win the Union Leader editorial board's endorsement is a setback for the former Massachusetts Governor, who continues to struggle with Conservative Republican voters.
In an interview on CNN, Union Leader editor page editor Andrew Cline said the paper picked Gingrich because he had the political experience to enact much of his platform:
"Romney's a guy who wants to be liked," Cline said. "He's a politician who wants to be liked. Gingrich is a politician who wants to be respected, who wants to actually accomplish - he has an agenda that he wants to set in place.
I'm really not sure precisely what we get out of a President Romney who might very well be a good president, but we don't really know," Cline added. "So given the choice between the candidate who wants to be liked and the candidate who wants to be respected, we would rather have the guy who wants to be respected."
I don't put much stock in newspaper endorsements, but with six weeks left before New Hampshire voters cast their ballots, the Union Leader's endorsement may give Gingrich an edge as Republicans ask which candidate is best positioned to defeat President Barack Obama.