Iowa Newspaper’s Backing Could Aid Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney received a potential boost to his presidential campaign in Iowa by winning the endorsement of the Des Moines Register, just more than two weeks before the state’s caucuses start the Republican nomination voting on Jan. 3.

“He has solid credentials in a career that includes running and starting successful businesses, turning around the 2002 Winter Olympics and working with both political parties as Massachusetts governor to pass important initiatives,” Iowa’s largest newspaper said in an endorsement released yesterday.

Romney is also showcasing an endorsement from Bob Dole, the Republican nominee in 1996, in an ad in today’s Register that quotes the former Kansas senator as saying Romney offers the “best hope” for beating President Barack Obama in 2012.

In outlining its case for Romney, the newspaper detailed problems it sees in the two other candidates it views as being in the “top tier” in Iowa: former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

“Newt Gingrich is an undisciplined partisan who would alienate, not unite, if he reverts to mean-spirited attacks on display as House speaker,” the newspaper said. “Ron Paul’s libertarian ideology would lead to economic chaos and isolationism, neither of which this nation can afford.”

Presidential Ability

Using the words “sobriety, wisdom and judgment” to describe Romney, the newspaper said he has presidential ability.

“While other candidates have pandered to extremes with attacks on the courts and sermons on Christian values, Romney has pointedly refrained from reckless rhetoric and moralizing,” it said. “He may be accused of being too cautious, but choosing words carefully is a skill essential for anyone who could be sitting in the White House and reacting to world events.”

Romney brings “well-reasoned alternatives rather than simply proposing to swing a wrecking ball in Washington” and is a “serious student of public policy who examines the data before making a decision,” the paper said.

Democrats have sought to brand Romney as a serial flip- flopper on policy positions, a view the Register challenged.

“Voters will have to decide for themselves whether such subtly nuanced statements express Romney’s true beliefs or if he’s trying to have it both ways,” it said. “Romney at least appreciates both sides of hard questions.”

Four years ago, the newspaper endorsed Senator John McCain of Arizona, who went on to win the Republican nomination.

‘Best Case’

“This is a different field, and he has matured as a candidate,” the editorial said. “Rebuilding the economy is the nation’s top priority, and Romney makes the best case among the Republicans that he could do that.”

The newspaper endorsement follows one Romney won a day earlier from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the top official in the state that holds the third contest in the 2012 Republican presidential nominating race on Jan. 21.

In late November, Gingrich won the endorsement of the Union Leader newspaper, which is the largest in New Hampshire.

The Iowa caucuses will be held one week before the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10. The two contests traditionally start the nomination process.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Des Moines, at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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