NEW YORK -- By endorsing Jon Huntsman in the Republican primary on Thursday night, the Boston Globe has once again chosen an alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
In 2008 the paper's editorial board went with Sen. John McCain, who this time around is a Romney backer. But the Romney campaign doesn't appear to be losing sleep over his hometown paper's snub.
"There are two newspapers in Boston," campaign senior advisor Eric Fehrnstrom told The Huffington Post on Friday. "The Globe has a liberal editorial page, and it's not surprising they would endorse Jon Huntsman. Mitt Romney was pleased to get the endorsement of the more conservative Boston Herald."
Indeed, the Boston Herald -- where Fehrnstrom once worked as a political reporter -- declared last week that the "nation needs Romney." While the Globe described Romney as one of only two Republican candidates who stands "out as truly presidential," the board also finds him "cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination." Huntsman, they write, "has been bold."
Globe editorial page editor Peter Canellos, in an interview with The Huffington Post, said that the board "gave Romney a lot of consideration." Canellos even went to see Romney on the stump a few times last week in Iowa before sitting down with the board on Wednesday. Huntsman previously met with the board this cycle, while Romney did not accept an invitation to do so.
Canellos said the decision of the publisher and board -- which is separate from the paper's news pages -- serves as a "positive endorsement for Huntsman," rather than a condemnation of Romney. Canellos praised Romney's early years as Massachusetts governor, including his "central accomplishment" of passing of health care reform and other innovative programs. "His overall governing approach was quite moderate, quite bipartisan, businesslike in the best sense, in there not being a lot of political drama surrounding him or his family or his circle," Canellos said.
Canellos acknowledges that the Globe is "more liberal, moderate" than the Herald. Yet even if conservatives aren't swayed, Canellos argues that the editorial could have some influence among independents, especially in southern New Hampshire, where the paper has a large audience.
"We don't consider ourselves by any means to be partisan to Democrats or moderate Republicans or any particular ideology," Canellos said. "This endorsement was based partly on issue positions and on leadership and vision. That's what set Huntsman apart."
While it may be assumed that the Globe will inevitably back President Barack Obama in the general election, Canellos said it's not a done deal. If Huntsman were the nominee, for instance, "it would definitely be open for discussion."
And what about, say, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich?
"I think they'd have a much higher hurdle," he said.
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