2012 GOP Nomination: ‘The Des Moines Register’ Endorses Mitt Romney

The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s biggest and most influential newspaper, announced that it would endorse Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president.

Can the endorsement of Iowa's largest and most influential newspaper help propel Mitt Romney to victory in the GOP caucuses on Jan. 3? That's the open question this morning as many Iowa voters for the first time read in the Des Moines Register that Romney is its choice for the GOP nomination. Photo: Tim Scott/Flickr

“He stands out in the current field of Republican candidates,” writes the Register’s editorial board in the endorsement. “Rebuilding the economy is the nation’s top priority, and Romney makes the best case among the Republicans that he could do that.”

The endorsement, which will appear in print on Sunday, makes the case that Romney “stands out” among the Republican field in important areas: “Sobriety, wisdom and judgment. Those are qualities Mitt Romney said he looks for in a leader.

Those are qualities Romney himself has demonstrated in his career in business, public service and government. Those qualities help the former Massachusetts governor stand out as the most qualified Republican candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses.”

In 15 days, Iowa voters will cast the first votes in the 2012 presidential election process. The GOP race has been something of a roller coaster, as different GOP contenders have tried to cast themselves as the best alternative to Romney.

The Register is the largest newspaper in the state and in a lengthy editorial, it praised Romney as “pointedly refrain(ing) from reckless rhetoric and moralizing” while his opponents have “pandered to extremes with attacks on the courts and sermons on Christian values.”

The Register also addresses Romney’s reputation as a flip-flopper, arguing that ” It should be possible for a politician to say, “I was wrong, and I have changed my mind.”

The editorial acknowledges that the issue of healthcare presents a special challenge to the former Massachusetts governor: “He helped create health-care reform in Massachusetts that is strikingly similar to the much-derided “Obamacare,” for example.

Yet Romney argues reasonably, though not entirely persuasively, that while all states should be free to experiment with their own reforms, it is wrong for the federal government to force a one-size-fits-all plan on the entire nation.”

In 2008, the paper endorsed John McCain over Mitt Romney and the editors write Romney “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,” the editorial reads.

They praise the former Massachusetts governor’s “tendency to carefully pick his way through the political minefields,” using abortion as an example.

“He was quoted in 1994 as defending a woman’s right to choose abortion. When he ran for governor in 2002, Romney said he was personally pro-life but vowed he would not restrict or promote access to abortion.

Yet he vetoed legislation legalizing the so-called morning-after pill because he saw it as easing access to abortion,” the editorial reads. “Voters will have to decide for themselves whether such subtly nuanced statements express Romney’s true beliefs or if he’s trying to have it both ways.”

In endorsing Romney, the Register also had harsh words for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who it called “an undisciplined partisan who would alienate, not unite, if he reverts to mean-spirited attacks on display as House speaker.”

As for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is running in the top tier along with Romney and Gingrich in Iowa, the Register editorial board said that his “libertarian ideology would lead to economic chaos and isolationism, neither of which this nation can afford.”

Tim Hagle, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa, argues the newspaper’s endorsement could give Romney a boost as many of the state’s voters start to winnow their choices.

“As much as we take pride in Iowa about the caucuses, not everyone can pay attention,” Hagle said. “In this GOP race … you want to know what these editorial foks and reporters on the ground think about who is the best leader or the strongest person or who is the most consistent. There’s a certain weight to it.” [via Huffington Post, The USA Today, The Washington Post and ABC]

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