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Gingrich Nets Influential Newspaper Endorsement in N.H.

Newt Gingrich clinched a major endorsement from the New Hampshire Union Leader on Sunday. (AP)

Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich clinched the endorsement of the influential New Hampshire Union Leader Sunday, a significant boost for the former House Speaker's surging campaign.

"We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing," the state's largest newspaper said in its front-page editorial.

"A lot of candidates say they're going to improve Washington," it said. "Newt Gingrich has actually done that, and in this race he offers the best shot of doing it again."

Gingrich came in second place in a recent poll of likely New Hampshire Republican voters, garnering 15 percent support to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's first-place 42 percent.

The same poll placed Texas Rep. Ron Paul in third place with 12 percent and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman at 8 percent.

According to the Associated Press, with six weeks to go until the primary, the Union Leader's endorsement could prove significant with its "conservative editorial stance that proudly works to influence elections, from school boards to the White House, in the politically savvy state." The paper endorsed eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCain in 2008, prior to his win in the state, though backed Steve Forbes in 2000 and Pat Buchanan in 1992.

"We don't have to agree with them on every issue," the editorial said. "We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear."

The newspaper's endorsement could be considered a setback for  Romney, who despite frontrunner status has failed to capture widespread conservative support among the GOP base. According to the AP, Romney has lobbied for the paper's support, including having dinner with its publisher earlier this year.

According to NBC, the Gingrich campaign said they were "honored to have the endorsement" and called it "an enormous boost to our campaign."

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