Romney picks up Iowa paper's endorsement

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of the Sioux City Journal on Saturday.

"Within this year's Republican presidential field, Romney again stands out as the candidate who is best prepared through experience, skills and qualities to lead the country," the paper's editorial reads.

"If as a Republican your No. 1 priority is the defeat of Obama, consider this: Romney is the candidate within this field who is best-positioned to win general election votes from not simply Republican voters, but from the all-important Independents in the middle, as well as from moderate Democrats on the left."

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The endorsement is a bright spot in Iowa for Romney. He has been at or near the top of national polls for most of the Republican primary race, but conservatives in Iowa have not warmed to the Massachusetts governor's more moderate past. 

With a month to go before the state's first in the nation caucuses, the GOP race appears to be wide open.

The Romney campaign had not invested heavily in Iowa this year, but made an about face in November after polls showed that a little investment in Iowa could pay off big. He started airing television ads and his communications director, Gail Gitcho, told reporters last week that Romney’s strategy in Iowa was to win. She immediately walked back those comments, lest the campaign set high expectations that could later be used against them.

The Journal editorial expressed faith in Romney's conservative credentials, which have been called into question by Republicans and Democrats alike.

"We do not question Romney's conservative credentials, whether the issue is economics, national defense or social issues," the editorial reads.

"If it's a 'family values' candidate you want, Romney is a good and decent man of integrity who lives the values he espouses."