The ultra-conservative Manchester Union Leader, the largest and most influential newspaper in New Hampshire has endorsed Newt Gingrich in the New Hampshire Republican primary, which will be held on January 10.
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.
Interesting. The Union Leader gives credit to Gingrich for the surplus, implying that Bill Clinton fought against balancing the budget. They also don’t mention Gingrich’s ethics problems. Gingrich must be dancing a jig with Callista today. Steve Benen looked to see what the newspaper’s record is on picking primary winners.
Looking back, the track record is mixed:
1976: The paper endorsed Ronald Reagan over Gerald Ford, but Reagan lost
1980: Reagan won the endorsement and the primary
1988: The Union Leader supported Pete du Pont, who finished fourth in the primary
1992: The paper supported Pat Buchanan, who finished a competitive second against an incumbent president
1996: The Union Leader again backed Buchanan, who this time won the primary
2000: Steve Forbes won the paper’s endorsement, in advance of a third-place showing
2008: The Union Leader supported John McCain, who won the state’s primary
While the endorsement doesn’t mean Gingrich will catch up with Romney, I don’t see how it can hurt. I’m sure the White House is celebrating today too. Gingrich would certainly be an easier opponent for Obama than Romney. And Bill Clinton basically confirmed that by praising Gingrich in an interview with Newsmax. [WARNING: wingnut site!]
Former President Bill Clinton praised his erstwhile nemesis former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, crediting Gingrich’s strong debate performances with propelling him into front-runner status for the GOP presidential nomination.
“It’s not any traditional charisma,” said Clinton, who discussed his new best-seller, “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy,” in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV. Instead, Clinton believes Gingrich is emerging because “he thinks about this stuff all the time.”
The White House must be grateful to Clinton for heaping the following praise on Gingrich:
“He’s articulate and he tries to think of a conservative version of an idea that will solve a legitimate problem,” Clinton told Newsmax in the exclusive interview this week, by way of explaining the Gingrich resurgence. Gingrich holds frontrunner status in the race for the GOP nomination, as several polls have him surpassing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Clinton continued: “For example, I watched the national security debate last night. And Newt said two things that would make an independent voter say, ‘Well, I gotta consider that.’
“He said, ‘OK, I don’t want to legitimize immigrants who came here undocumented, illegally.’ On the other hand, a lot of those people have been here for years, they worked hard, they paid taxes, they’ve got kids in the schools, they’re not criminals, we’re going to have a hard time sending them all home, there’s millions of them. So, I’d like to have a process where they could be here legally but not have a path to citizenship. That sort of splits the difference between the immigration reforms proposed by President Bush and President Obama, which would give a path to citizenship, and would be a version of what President Reagan did.”
Newsmax notes that Clinton didn’t go so far as to predict Newt would be the Republican nominee.
And how are the losers in the endorsement race reacting? The Boston Globe:
Romney campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho declined to comment. Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union this morning, Cain blamed his failure to secure the paper’s endorsement on “false accusations” of sexual harassment from his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association and confusion over his position on abortion.
“Obviously false accusations and confusion about some of my positions has contributed to it and that was to be expected,” Cain said. “Some people are heavily influenced by perception more so than reality. The good news is most of my supporters have stayed on the Cain train, as we say.”
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, on Fox News Sunday, shrugged off the impact.
“It once again proves how fluid and unpredictable New Hampshire is,” Huntsman said of the endorsement. “A month ago for Newt Gingrich to have been in the running to capture the Union Leader endorsement would be unthinkable.”
Cain blew it when he publicly snubbed the Union Leader by cancelling a planned candidate interview a couple of weeks ago and then rescheduled it a few days later. I imagine Romney is really grinding his teeth over this. I can’t imagine how he could win the nomination without taking the New Hampshire primary.