Newt Gingrich has won an important endorsement in New Hampshire, but that doesn't guarantee success in the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary on January 10.
The New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester backed Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday. The newspaper, New Hampshire's largest and an influential conservative voice, said in a front-page editorial that Gingrich is injecting important new ideas into the race. "We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing," publisher Joe McQuaid wrote in the editorial. The editorial also said, "Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate. But Republican primary voters too often make the mistake of preferring an unattainable ideal to the best candidate who is actually running."
The Union Leader endorsement is avidly sought by GOP candidates because it's thought to be important in persuading conservative voters. But the newspaper's record is by no means perfect in predicting winners.
It endorsed Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 2008 and McCain went on to win the New Hampshire primary and the GOP nomination but lost the presidency to Democrat Barack Obama. However, the newspaper supported businessman Steve Forbes in 2000, but Forbes finished third in the state to McCain and George W. Bush, who won the GOP nomination and the White House.
Mitt Romney, former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, led in New Hampshire for many months, but Gingrich has overtaken him recently, according to some polls. The former House speaker impressed many with his debate performances while other alternatives to Romney faltered, including businessman Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
Some polls in New Hampshire show Gingrich in a virtual tie with Romney there. But the latest survey by WMUR and the University of New Hampshire, released last week, found that 42 percent of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire are likely to support Romney, followed by Gingrich at 15 percent.