The Washington Examiner — a daily, conservative newspaper in the D.C. metropolitan region — endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president on Thursday morning.
The Examiner was clear: Romney is the “GOP’s best choice” and, “the only Republican who can beat Obama” in an election they called “the most important election since 1860,” when Abraham Lincoln won the presidency shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War.
While acknowledging past transgressions from conservative positions, the paper declared that, “By fits and starts over the years, Romney has become the reliable conservative that America so badly needs at this crucial moment in her history.”
The editors did not shy from criticism of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich — the current front-runner for the Republican nomination and, the paper’s tone suggests, the reason behind the strong push for Romney.
“The Washington Examiner believes Romney can defeat Obama , but Gingrich cannot. And Romney the businessman is far better suited to the nation’s highest office — by temperament, experience, and cast of mind — than Gingrich the consummate Washington insider.”
The editors were also critical of Gingrich’s personality and past moral transgressions, comparing him to “an exploding cigar, waiting to be lit” and pointing to his multiple affairs — including “an adulterous affair with a twentysomething aide (now his wife) even as he was preparing the impeachment of President [Bill] Clinton for having an adulterous affair with a twentysomething intern.”
The paper asserted that, despite his objections, Gingrich was indeed a lobbyist who entered Congress in 1978 worth $10,000 and left in 1998 worth $7.5 million. The editors accused Republican supporters of the former speaker of “engaging in willful amnesia,” and made clear its opinion that “Obama’s political hit squads” will not overlook Gingrich’s past.
The Examiner is joined in its criticism of Gingrich by the conservative magazine National Review, which published an editorial on Wednesday night that read, “We fear that to nominate the former Speaker Newt Gingrich would be to blow the opportunity to win the White House next year.”
The Examiner listed three main reasons for their confidence that Romney would “make a compelling case that he would be a strong and successful president”: His plans for what to do as president are strong and clear; his skill and experience as a businessman and his faith in the free market are needed for America’s broken economy; and, “perhaps most important,” his unwavering faith in a strong and prosperous America.
“Romney,” the paper continued, “has the misfortune of being an earnest man running in an ironic time, and the leitmotif of the Republican race so far has been the search for the ‘anti-Romney’”
Conservatives, the paper concluded, “have been searching for a candidate who shared their conservative principles, who had strength of character, and who, above all, could beat Barack Obama. We believe this candidate has been hiding in plain sight. Mitt Romney is not ‘too perfect,’ as some political analysts have argued, but he is perfect enough.”
The Washington Examiner is owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz, who also owns the San Francisco Examiner.