Just over two weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, the Des Moines Register has endorsed Mitt Romney in a less-than-passionate editorial that claims Romney is the one Republican candidate with "Sobriety, wisdom and judgment."
Romney is accused of being a “flip-flopper.” He has evolved from one-time independent to moderate Republican in liberal Massachusetts to proud conservative today. He does not deny changing his position on some issues, but he will say he has made mistakes and has learned from them. Though Romney has tended to adapt some positions to different times and places, he is hardly unique. It should be possible for a politician to say, “I was wrong, and I have changed my mind.”
But more subtle distinctions apply to Romney on some major issues where he has been accused of flipping or flopping. He helped create health-care reform in Massachusetts that is strikingly similar to the much-derided “Obamacare,” for example. Yet Romney argues reasonably, though not entirely persuasively, that while all states should be free to experiment with their own reforms, it is wrong for the federal government to force a one-size-fits-all plan on the entire nation.
They make their assessments of the other candidates, too: Gingrich is unfocused, Perry's kind of a moron, Bachmann's often wrong, Ron Paul is occasionally "nutty," and Santorum is running for "minister-in-chief."
While the Register doesn't often pick a winner, (the last time they chose the candidate who eventually became president was
George W. Bush in 2000. UPDATE: Nope, they picked John McCain in 2008, too, though the Register endorsement didn't help him win Iowa.) I think this is another sign that Gingrich's momentum is quickly fading. Public Policy Polling has him plummeting in national and Iowa polls, and his latest controversy has just begun its moment in the news cycle. Turns out, the FBI was thisclose to setting up a sting operation on Gingrich back in 1997:
It is a curious case in the annals of the FBI: The bureau considered a sting operation against then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich after sifting through allegations from a notorious arms dealer that a $10 million bribe might get Congress to lift the Iraqi arms embargo.