WASHINGTON — The largest newspaper in the pivotal US election state of New Hampshire on Sunday endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination.
Rebuffing longtime frontrunner Mitt Romney, who once served as governor in the neighboring state of Massachusetts, the editors at the New Hampshire Union Leader praised Gingrich’s “innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership.”
“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,” the newspaper wrote.
It added in the front page editorial: “We are in critical need of the “innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing.”
Romney has been leading in polls in the northern US state, home to the first in the nation presidential primary in early January.
But Gingrich, a former college professor from Georgia and longtime politician in Washington, has been rapidly closing the gap there in recent weeks. The so-called Granite State has scheduled its primary for January 10, 2012.
“Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate,” the New Hampshire newspaper’s editorial said.
“But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running.”
Gingrich, 68, a 20-year veteran of Congress who is viewed as the intellectual in the current crop of Republican candidates, was a central figure in US politics in the 1990s.
His campaign had been all but written off a few months ago, has enjoyed a surge in support which saw him last week take the lead over Romney in national polls.
Romney was one of the runners-up to the eventual Republican nominee John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
At least one national opinion poll gave Gingrich a four percent lead over the former Massachusetts governor in the roiling Republican race that has seen the frontrunner change several times in recent months.