Des Moines Register backs Mitt Romney

Holly Bailey
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LAND O'LAKES, Fla.—Mitt Romney won a major newspaper endorsement on Saturday, as the Des Moines Register's editorial board formally backed the GOP candidate's bid for the presidency.

It was the first time in 40 years the influential battleground state paper endorsed a Republican in the general election, dating back to its support of Richard Nixon in the 1972 election. The Register previously backed Romney in the 2012 GOP primary.

In an editorial published on the newspaper's website Saturday night, the Register called both Romney and President Barack Obama "superbly qualified," citing their service in government and the fact they are both "devoted husbands and fathers."

But according to the paper, it determined Romney was better positioned to "forge the compromises in Congress" necessary to turn the economy around, create jobs and get the federal budget back on track.

"Romney has made rebuilding the economy his No. 1 campaign priority--and rightly so," the Register's editorial read.

At the same time, the paper noted Obama's "best efforts to resuscitate the stumbling economy have fallen short."

"Nothing indicates it would change with a second term in the White House," the paper said. "Barack Obama rocketed to the presidency from relative obscurity with a theme of hope and change. A different reality has marked his presidency. His record on the economy the past four years does not suggest he would lead in the direction the nation must go in the next four years."

The Register noted that Romney is likely to face the same kind of political opposition that has challenged Obama's first term agenda. But the paper expressed hope that Romney might be able to forge the same kind of alliances that helped him govern as a Republican in Massachusetts.

"Voters should give Mitt Romney a chance to correct the nation's fiscal course and to implode the partisan gridlock that has shackled Washington and the rest of America--with the understanding that he would face the same assessment in four years if he does not succeed," the paper wrote.

It's unclear how the Register's support will influence the race in Iowa, where polls have found Romney and Obama in a statistical dead heat. Romney scheduled to campaign in the state Monday. He spent two days in the state earlier this week.