Gingrich wins Union Leader endorsement

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich received the endorsement of the influential editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader on Sunday, providing another boost to his surging campaign.

The endorsement gives the former House Speaker additional momentum after a month which has seen him vault to the top of national GOP polls.

"We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing," said the editorial by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid.

"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," he added.

The Gingrich campaign said it was "honored to have the endorsement," calling it "an enormous boost to our campaign," reported NBC News.

The Union Leader endorsement is highly regarded in the early primary state. Candidates often meet with the editorial board and place great emphasis on securing its backing.

The failure to win the board's endorsement may be a setback for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign which has struggled to win support from Tea party-affiliated voters and the right-wing of the GOP base.

Drew Cline, editorial page editor for the Union Leader, spoke about the board's decision on CNN Sunday morning. Cline said that the board's "two favorites were probably Perry, Gingrich."

He added that the board, which failed to endorse Romney in 2008 as well gave "every candidate serious consideration."

However explaining his view on the difference between the two candidates, he added that "Romney's a guy who wants to be liked, a politician who wants to be liked. Gingrich is a politician who wants to be respected."

"I'm not sure precisely what we get out of a President Romney, who could be a very good president," he said.

Yet despite the endorsement and Gingrich's new lead in many national polls, Romney still holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

A Suffolk University/7News poll released last week showed Romney winning the support of 41 percent of likely GOP voters surveyed. Gingrich only secured 14 percent, tied with Texas Rep. Ron Paul for second place.

Another poll by the American Research Group last week showed Gingrich closing the gap in New Hampshire but still trailing Romney by 11 percent.

The Union Leader's endorsement while coveted and influential has not always translated into a victory in the Granite State. The paper endorsed Ronald Reagan for the 1976 GOP primary, yet saw then-President Gerald Ford win. In 1980, the paper backed Reagan again who went on to win the primary and his party's nomination.

In 1988, however, the paper backed Pete du Pont who fell to George H.W. Bush in the primary. Pat Buchanan won the board's support in 1992, but failed in his challenge to then-President Bush, eventually winning with the paper's backing in 1996.

In 2000, the paper backed businessman Steve Forbes who would lose the primary to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

This story was updated at 2:40 p.m.

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