New Hampshire Union-Leader Endorses McCain

Dec 2, 2007 5:24am

ABC News’ Bret Hovell Reports: Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., has received the coveted endorsement of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, a coup for the candidate who struggled early on in the race for the White House, but has regained footing in recent weeks.

The Union-Leader, based in Manchester, NH, posted the endorsement on its website late Saturday night. It will run in the print editions of Sunday’s paper.

In an editorial headlined "John McCain is the man to lead America," the editors write that though they disagree with him on some issues, such as campaign finance reform, McCain "can be trusted to make informed decisions based on the best interests of his country, come hell or high water."

Recent polls show McCain running a solid second behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the Granite State. Romney has outspent his rivals in New Hampshire in television and radio ads, but the Union-Leader endorsement will be read by New Hampshire conservatives statewide, and could help McCain pick up ground.

"There aren’t that many newspapers endorsements that really matter, but this one does," said Mark Halperin, an ABC News political consultant. "It is the largest newspaper in the state that John McCain desperately needs to have a chance to be the nominee."

McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000 by 19 points over then-Governor George W. Bush. During that election the Union-Leader endorsed billionaire Steve Forbes, who came in third.

McCain is starting a six-day bus tour of the New Hampshire Monday, which will take him to all parts of the state aboard the Straight Talk Express.

The endorsement fits in with a larger storyline that the McCain campaign hopes is developing.

"It shows that he is getting support at a time where some people have written him off and where he is trying to build a comeback story," Halperin said. "This endorsement could be part of that comeback story."

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