Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has received the coveted endorsement of the highly-influential Manchester Union Leader in New Hampshire, a boost for the 2012 Republican presidential candidate and a blow to rival Mitt Romney.
The endorsement of the conservative newspaper’s editorial board places an exclamation point on Gingrich’s impressive surge from has-been GOP contender to front-runner, and sets him apart as the new anti-Romney candidate amongst his competitors.
“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,” the editorial board wrote in Sunday’s edition.
The Leader added in a banner headline across the front page that the former Georgia lawmaker has something the rest of the candidates don’t — a track record of success in Washington.
“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,” the endorsement reads.
“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,” it continues.
The Union Leader has long had great sway in Republican politics in the state. The newspaper used page one editorials and columns to help John McCain win the state’s primary four years ago and start the Arizona senator’s path to the GOP nomination.
It’s also a blow to Romney, who had met several times with the editorial board and whose strategy relies heavily on winning New Hampshire in a crushing victory so that he appears the inevitable candidate.