Des Moines Register backs Romney

Mitt Romney got a big boost in Iowa on Saturday night when the Des Moines Register endorsed the former Massachusetts governor.

With just over two weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses launch the voting in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Romney got the prized newspaper endorsement that eluded him in the 2008 race.

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"Sobriety, wisdom and judgment," the Register's editorial board wrote. "Those are qualities Mitt Romney said he looks for in a leader. Those are qualities Romney himself has demonstrated in his career in business, public service and government. Those qualities help the former Massachusetts governor stand out as the most qualified Republican candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich led the field in the latest Register poll, earning 25 percent support. With 18 percent support, Romney finished third in that poll, behind Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul.

The Register's editorial board did not have kind words for Gingrich and Paul, however.

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

Romney was at or near the top of the Republican field for much of the early campaign, but, as conservative voters searched for their prefered candidate, Romney has been over taken by various challengers.

In its endorsement, the Register took on the charge that Romney is not a consistent conservative.

"He has evolved from one-time independent to moderate Republican in liberal Massachusetts to proud conservative today," the paper wrote. "He does not deny changing his position on some issues, but he will say he has made mistakes and has learned from them."