Stephen Guy Hardin / November 28, 2011

The Union Leader Misleads Again

“We are in critical need of the innovative, forward- looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing,” the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, proclaimed in their endorsement of the former speaker.

“He did so with the Contract with America,” the endorsement continued. “He did it in bringing in the first Republican House in 40 years and by forging balanced budgets and even a surplus despite the political challenge of dealing with a Democratic president. 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.”

Six weeks before the crucial kick off to the 2012 primary season the Union Leader endorsement is considered a key vote of conservative confidence in the Granite State. John McCain scored their endorsement in 2008 when he staged his primary come back the debacle of the Iowa caucus. McCain then used his New Hampshire primary win as a springboard to helping Barack Obama win the White House.

But I digress.

Gingrich has been picking up steam in state and national polls in recent weeks after a monumentally disastrous start, but the endorsement of the states leading political newspaper could prove to be a double edged sword. The Union Leader endorsement history is a mixed bag of hits and misses.

Mixed bag, indeed.

In 2000, it endorsed Republican Steve Forbes, who finished third in the state’s primary.

The paper backed Ronald Reagan in 1980, the year he won the presidency. But it also endorsed Reagan in 1976, when he lost the primary and the eventual nomination to Gerald “Whip Inflation Now” Ford.

The paper also endorsed the king of pyrrhic victories, Patrick Buchanan in 1992 and 1996. Buchanan’s national campaign’s failed to gain momentum but did ensure a split in the party wide enough to put Bill and Hillary in the White House.

“I think it reflects, more than anything else, the fluidity, the unpredictability of the race right now,” said Republican candidate Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and former Obama Ambassador to China, on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

“A month ago for Newt Gingrich to have been in the running to capture the Manchester Union Leader endorsement would have been unthinkable.” Perhaps not as unthinkable as a Huntsman nomination, but in a Republican Party starving for a true conservative Gingrich has proven he still knows how to push the right buttons.

It is surprising that a paper with such a long history of political reporting has such a short memory when he comes to its endorsements.

While Newt has retooled his formerly moribund campaign on the strength of his debate performances, the train wreck campaign organization of Ginrich 2012 is the reality that may prove the Union Leader wrong yet again. Considering their dubious history of endorsements the Ginrich campaign should temper their exuberance as the Union Leader misleads again.

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