With the Iowa caucuses just 16 days away, Mitt Romney scored a big endorsement last night, this time from the state's largest and most influential newspaper: the Des Moines Register. "Sobriety, wisdom and judgment," the paper's editorial board wrote. "Those are qualities Mitt Romney said he looks for in a leader," and they're also the ones that have pushed the former Massachusetts governor to the front of the pack. The paper acknowledges that it did not endorse him in 2008 (it backed John McCain), but explains "this is a different field, and he has matured as a candidate. Rebuilding the economy is the nation’s top priority, and Romney makes the best case among the Republicans that he could do that." Click to read the entire endorsement, which addresses his flip-flopping (it refers to his "subtly nuanced statements"), Newt Gingrich (someone with the potential to "alienate"), and Ron Paul (who would sow "economic chaos").
So what does the Register's nod mean for the GOP field? Other news outlets weigh in:
- It shows that the GOP race is now essentially a two-man battle, between Romney and Gingrich, observes Seema Mehta for the LA Times, despite the media's non-stop desire for new candidates and stories.
- The nod could give Romney a boost in a state that he dumped millions into in 2008, but has largely ignored thus far. To wit, he only started running TV ads there in the last few weeks, writes Chris Cillizza for the Washington Post.
- But it may not be much of a boost, writes Ginger Gibson for Politico. The newspaper hasn’t had a perfect track record in terms of swaying voters, and it's "seen as having a liberal-leaning editorial board," meaning its endorsements tend "to carry more weight in Democratic primaries."
The New York Times
notes that Romney picked up another endorsement this morning: Bob Dole's.