Newt Gingrich's turn as the GOP's latest presidential pet gathered some big momentum today: The former House speaker has picked up the endorsement of New Hampshire's main newspaper, the Union Leader, which announced its pick with a banner headline in today's edition. While Gingrich "is by no means the perfect candidate," the paper opined, he is "the best candidate who is actually running," and has "the experience, the leadership qualities, and the vision to lead this country in these trying times."
The nod from the conservative and influential editorial page could prove vital in the nation's first primary, notes the AP: The Union Leader's blessing helped give middle-of-the-pack candidate John McCain a win in the Granite State four years ago. Over at Politico, Maggie Haberman notes that the endorsement is a serious blow for Mitt Romney, who had "assiduously courted the paper." Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman, who has gone all-in on New Hampshire, sought to minimize the snub, saying it emphasized "how fluid and unpredictable New Hampshire is." (Read more Newt Gingrich stories.)