Newspapers abandon 2008 Obama endorsements, choose Romney

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Republicans are touting a list of newspapers that have switched their endorsements from then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008 to Gov Mitt Romney in 2012.

Their list is topped by the Des Moines Register, the largest newspaper in swing-state Iowa. But it also includes five Florida papers — Florida Today, the Orlando Sentinel, the Pensacola News Journal, Naples Daily News and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — plus the Quad City Times, on the border between Iowa and Illinois.

Other newspapers in Republican Texas and Democratic New York, California and Illinois have also flipped to the Republican presidential contender from 2008, when they endorsed Obama.

The Des Moines Register is the largest newspaper in Iowa, with a Sunday circulation of 211,880. (RELATED: Romney wins surprise endorsement from Iowa’s Des Moines Register)

The five Florida newspapers have a combined weekly or Sunday circulation of more than 700,000.

A Nevada newspaper, the Reno Gazette-Journal, also flipped, potentially pulling a few move votes towards Romney in that swing state.

Most endorsements are announced on weekends, partly because Sunday editions usually have the largest circulation.

Many newspapers have stuck by Obama, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, which have a combined Sunday circulation of roughly 2.7 million.

The influence of newspaper endorsements is modest, but both candidates seek them as they battle for electoral votes in swing states.

Obama, for example, talked with the publisher and editor of the Des Moines Register for 30 minutes on Oct. 23 in an attempt to win their support in the hard-fought state. Romney met with them for almost an hour — and it likely paid off when the Register endorsed a Republican for the first time in 40 years.

Iowa has six electoral votes.

The endorsements also generate useful material for TV advertising.

“In these uncertain times, we need a leader who will chart a clear course, sweat the details and get the job done right,” the Sun Sentinel wrote Oct. 26 when endorsing Romney.

“Voters should give Mitt Romney a chance to correct the nation’s fiscal course and to implode the partisan gridlock that has shackled Washington and the rest of America — with the understanding that he would face the same assessment in four years if he does not succeed,” the Des Moines Register wrote Oct. 27.

According to a list maintained by the American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara, only one major newspaper that endorsed Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 has backed Obama this year. Obama’s “shortcomings,” the San Antonio Express-News editorial board wrote Oct. 22, “don’t justify a change in leadership.”

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