Jon Huntsman got a high-profile endorsement when the Boston Globe backed his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination over a frontrunner from the paper's home state, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The Globe made clear that it was between Huntsman and Romney for the endorsement. But it suggested Romney has moved too far to the right in his pursuit of the nomination. Indeed, the endorsement of Huntsman spent a fair amount of time describing the faults of Romney.
"Both his supporters and detractors suspect that behind the conservative scaffolding is a data-driven moderate who will make practical compromises. But the way Romney has run his campaign, it's impossible to tell," wrote the Boston Globe editorial board.
Romney has undergone policy evolutions on numerous issues as a candidate and as governor since he first sought office in the 1990s.
The paper suggested its endorsement has something to do with drawing Romney - who has a good chance at securing the nomination if he wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida - back from the conservative side of the Republican Party.
"Even if Romney emerges as the nominee, it matters how he gets there," the editorial reads. "Already, the religious right, represented by Rick Santorum, and Tea Party activists, represented by Ron Paul, have pushed Romney in unwanted directions. In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance, through Huntsman, to show him a sturdier model. Jon Huntsman would be a better president. But if he fails, he could still make Romney a better candidate."
Huntsman's campaign has focused almost exclusively on New Hampshire, much like Rick Santorum focused on Iowa heading into the caucus there. Surely, Huntsman hopes he can surge in New Hampshire the way Santorum did in Iowa. But while Romney also had to surge to success in Iowa, Huntsman faces Romney near his home turf.
Four years ago, in the 2008 contest, the Globe endorsed Sen. John McCain, the ultimate winner, over Romney, who placed second.