WASHINGTON – The New Hampshire Union Leader, a powerful voice in the early-voting state, endorsed Newt Gingrich in the Republican presidential primary Sunday.
The newspaper’s endorsement is highly coveted in the state. The relatively early support – six weeks before the primary – could threaten what has been a consistent, comfortable lead for Mitt Romney, former governor of neighboring Massachusetts.
Romney goes unmentioned in the paper’s front-page endorsement. But the editorial says readers 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,” the paper writes. “We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear.”
Romney still has the support of much of the state’s Republican political elite, including former Gov. John H. Sununu, former Sen. Judd Gregg and Sen. Kelly Ayotte.