Detroit News endorses Romney, calls opponents unelectable

Mitt Romney picked up the backing of Michigan's second-largest paper Wednesday morning with an endorsement from the Detroit News.

The editorial praises Romney's private-sector achievements as well as his ability to work with Democrats, and rips his opponents as unelectable and lacking the leadership qualities to be president.

"Mitt Romney stands alone among the Republican primary field as the candidate capable of winning the White House, and more importantly, of leading the nation to a prosperous future," the paper's editorial board writes.

It mocks those on the right hoping someone can beat Romney. "Very conservative Republicans have been lukewarm to Romney because of his history of more moderate positions on social issues. They have flirted with each of his rivals looking for a true standard-bearer of conservative values," the paper says. "But those Republicans are delusional if they think either Santorum or Gingrich can prevail in the fall against Obama."

Romney has been neck and neck with Rick Santorum in polls in the state where he grew up and his father served as governor. If he loses Michigan, Romney could be in bad shape heading into Super Tuesday one week later.

The Detroit News has the second-largest circulation of any Michigan paper, although more GOP primary voters live in the Grand Rapids area. The paper backed John McCain over Romney in the 2008 primary; Romney won that election by a solid margin.

The editorial says that Romney was a successful governor who also has "deep experience in turning around private companies."

"Romney has a refreshing free-market vision for restoring the nation's prosperity. He sees a return to our entrepreneurial roots, freeing individuals to reach for their dreams, take risks and strive for gain with minimal government encumbrances."

One point of contention: The auto bailout, which Romney strongly opposed and the paper says was "absolutely essential to the survival of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp."

But the paper says that the "the issue isn't a differentiator in the GOP primary, since the entire field opposed the rescue effort."

On Santorum, the editorial board says he was "rejected by the voters who know him best."

"Nothing in his background suggests he has the skills to unify Americans behind his banner and become the leader of the free world. In addition, his fealty to the religious right will make him unappealing to the critical independent voters who will decide the election."

The editorial describes Gingrich as "one of the more divisive figures in American politics" and says he "is hardly the person to bring the country together."

The state's primary is next Tuesday.