The Concord Monitor broke with political tradition Sunday, telling readers in the state with the first presidential primary why they should not vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney instead of whom they should support.
In a scathing anti-endorsement that called Romney a "disquieting figure," the New Hampshire newspaper's editorial board said he looks and acts like a presidential contender but "surely must be stopped" because he lacks the core philosophical beliefs to be a trustworthy president.
In particular, the newspaper noted the former Massachusetts governor's change of heart on such issues as abortion rights, stem-cell research and access to emergency contraception, as well as on signing an anti-tax pledge.
"When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it," the newspaper said. "Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no."
Romney's campaign sloughed off the criticism and instead pointed to his endorsement Sunday by the Sioux City Journal in Iowa, the state whose Jan. 3 caucuses kick off the presidential nominating process. Romney also has been stumping hard in New Hampshire ahead of its Jan. 8 primary, including stops here and in two other communities on Sunday.
"The Monitor's editorial board is regarded as a liberal one on many issues, so it is not surprising that they would criticize Governor Romney for his conservative views and platform," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden. "Governor Romney has taken firm positions that are at odds with the board's support for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, their position against school choice and their advocacy for taking `Under God' out of the Pledge of Allegiance. The governor happens to disagree with the editorial board on all those issues."
In its endorsement, the Iowa newspaper said: "Romney combines an outsider's new face with a proven track record of success as an executive in both the private and public sectors. ... Personally, he is engaging, even charming, he has shown an ability to reach across partisan divides, and he is passionate on the campaign trail. In terms of leadership qualities, he possesses 'it,' and the importance of 'it' should not be diminished."