In a stunning blow to the Mitt Romney campaign, the largest newspaper in New Hampshire has dismissed the local boy's candidacy and endorsed the surging Newt Gingrich.
Saying that "America is at a crucial crossroads," the New Hampshire Union Leader wrote on Sunday that Gingrich shows the "forward-looking strategy and positive leadership" that the U.S. needs:
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.
Romney, who was the governor of neighboring Massachusetts and owns a $10 million compound in the Granite State, is still the leader in New Hampshire and in most national polls.
However he is seen as a weak frontrunner and it appears that Republicans are desperate to nominate anyone but him, latching onto such flavors-of-the-month as Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain before those campaigns flamed out and they reluctantly returned to Romney.
It should be noted that the Union Leader does not always pick the most popular candidate, admitting:
...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.
Indeed, past endorsements have gone to such notables as Pete du Pont in 1988, Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996 and Steve Forbes in 2000.