Utah Newspaper Endorsement Slams Mitt Romney

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In a blow to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Utah's largest newspaper today slammed his candidacy and endorsed President Obama instead.

Despite being credited for saving the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and making Utah his home at one time, the Salt Lake City Tribune said that the state's "favorite adopted son," Romney, has become "the party's shape-shifting nominee."

"In considering which candidate to endorse, the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem-solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago," the editorial board wrote. "Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb."

Though the Tribune chose to stiff Romney with its endorsement, Utah remains a solidly red state, as seen on the ABC News political map, and Romney is expected to win all six of its electoral votes.

In Florida, whose 29 electoral votes may be among the crown jewels of presidential politics, two major newspapers split their endorsements Friday.

The Tampa Bay Times, once again, put its hat in the ring for Obama, saying that "now is not the time to reverse course.

"The recovery has proven more difficult than anyone imagined," the editorial board said. "But conditions would be far worse without the president's steady leadership."

Romney also secured a big vote of confidence from the Orlando Sentinel, the largest newspaper in central Florida, that endorsed Obama in 2008.

"We have little confidence that Obama would be more successful managing the economy and the budget in the next four years," the paper's editorial board wrote. "For that reason, though we endorsed him in 2008, we are recommending Romney in this race."

Obama won Florida by 2.8 percent in 2008.

Obama today landed a major repeat endorsement from the Denver Post, Colorado's largest newspaper.

In 2008, more than 400 newspapers endorsed a presidential candidate, according to Editor & Publisher magazine, which tracked the endorsements. But so far, only a handful of critical swing state papers have made their endorsements known, which creates fierce competition for the favor of the ones that remain undecided.

As Obama and Romney crisscross the country in search of votes, they're hoping to pick up endorsements of a dozen or so influential newspapers that could help boost their fortunes in key swing states.

Here is a guide to swing state paper endorsements:

Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch has yet to endorse in 2012, but the paper endorsed McCain in 2008 and President George W. Bush in 2004. Romney met with the editorial board earlier this month in a bid for its nod of approval.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has also not endorsed a candidate in 2012, but it went for Obama in 2008, saying, "After eight years of George W. Bush, America needs a change in direction and a change in tone." It did, however, decline to endorse either candidate in 2004.

Virginia

Perhaps in a sign of the times, two of Virginia's newspapers, the Virginian-Pilot and the Roanoke Times, decided in 2008 to no longer endorse candidates for president, leaving the Richmond Times-Dispatch as the state's only remaining major endorser, even as Virginia's status as a critical swing state has risen in national politics. The Times-Dispatch endorsed McCain in 2008 and Bush in 2004 but has not yet revealed its 2012 pick.

Notably, several other Washington, D.C.-area newspapers, including the Washington Post and the Washington Times, circulate their papers in Virginia's northern suburbs, intensifying the competition.

Florida

In the fierce battle for Florida's 29 electoral college votes, today's endorsements of Obama and Romney by the Tampa Bay Times and the Orlando Sentinel, respectively, are major boosts.

Still, several other endorsements remain: The Tampa Tribune, which endorsed McCain in 2008, has also not revealed its endorsement, and the pick of the Miami Herald, which endorsed Obama in 2008, is also not known.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a tiny state with a potentially big electoral impact. Similarly, the Manchester Union-Leader has typically played an outsize role in electoral politics. It has twice passed up the chance to endorse Romney, who was governor of its next door neighbor, Massachusetts, in 2008 and in 2012. But Romney may still need the state's four electoral votes if he is to secure the presidency in 2012.

Colorado

Colorado may be one of the most purple states in this year's election, and the endorsements reflect the state's fluid political identity. Obama snagged the biggest prize today with the Denver Post's endorsement. The paper notably endorsed George Bush in 2004. Two other smaller papers, the Colorado Pueblo Chieftain and the Colorado Longmont Times-Call, have endorsed Romney.

North Carolina

Normally, a state squarely in the Republican column, North Carolina shifted to Obama in 2008, giving him a razor thin .3 percentage point win. It's up for grabs again in 2012, with 15 electoral votes at stake.

Last week, one of the state's smaller papers, the Winston-Salem journal, flipped from its position in 2008 to endorse Obama. But two other of the states larger papers have yet to endorse, including the Raleigh News & Observer, which went with Obama in 2008, and the state's largest paper, the Charlotte Observer, which also endorsed Obama.

Nevada

Nevada cast its lot with Obama in 2008, but with the housing crash hitting the state's economy hard, it is solidly in the undecided column for 2012. The state's largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, endorsed Romney this month. The editorial board endorsed McCain in 2008.

The Las Vegas Sun, another major paper, has yet to endorse in 2012, but it put its name down for Obama in 2008.

Iowa

The visit Romney made to the Des Moines Register editorial board revealed how seriously his campaign takes its endorsement.

After backing McCain and Hillary Clinton in the primaries, the Register endorsed Obama in the general election. Obama won the state by a wide margin.

The Register has not yet delivered its verdict for 2012, but Romney did win its endorsement in the GOP primary.

Wisconsin

Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate put the normally blue state into play in November. The state's dramatic political shift in the 2010 election toward the Republican Party has added to its swing state status. Its largest paper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, endorsed Obama in 2008 and Sen. John Kerry in 2004 but has not yet endorsed a candidate in 2012.

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