This morning’s edition of the Union Leader contains a reminder of why the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest (and most conservative) newspaper is so coveted by Republicans: Two separate editorials (technically, one is a note from publisher Joseph McQuaid) touting McCain and disparaging Mitt Romney, his chief rival in the state.
Most newspapers offer their editorial endorsements once, and the effect is limited. But the Union Leader bangs its message home, over and over. The paper endorsed McCain two months ago (on its front page, as is its custom) and has followed it up with numerous pro-McCain and anti-Romney editorials. And this is actually tame: Decades ago, when William Loeb, the Union Leader was known to brutalize its political foes. (The Loebs referred to President Gerald Ford, for instance, as “Jerry the Jerk.”)
The paper’s backing of McCain is doubly significant, since it had previously disdained him in the past as insufficiently conservative. It’s not entirely coincidental that conservative voters in New Hampshire, who had tuned McCain out because of his maverick streak, began to gave him a fresh look around the time the Union Leader handed him its surprise backing.