Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., picked up perhaps his most significant endorsement yet this weekend when the New Hampshire Union Leader said McCain is the best candidate for president.
“We don’t agree with him on every issue. We disagree with him strongly on campaign finance reform,” writes Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid. “What is most compelling about McCain, however, is that his record, his character, and his courage show him to be the most trustworthy, competent, and conservative of all those seeking the nomination.”
McCain quickly seized on the endorsement to make a new fundraising pitch to supporters.
“I am honored and grateful for this endorsement and believe that it’s yet another indication that I have the momentum to win New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary,” McCain wrote in an e-mail statement.
And on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, the Arizona senator said he believed the endorsement would help him in New Hampshire.
“The publisher of the paper and the editors all came to this decision. I’m grateful for it. And I think it will give us a boost,” McCain told host Bob Schieffer.
But some question what kind of boost McCain will receive from the Union Leader’s nod.
“The impact of newspaper endorsements can be overstated, and the Union Leader has a mixed record of picking winners,” writes Marc Santora of the New York Times. “However, in the most fluid and unpredictable Republican nomination in a generation, the editorial was welcomed by the McCain campaign.”
McCain also received praise over the weekend from another respected voice in political reporting. Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote on Sunday that Republicans should nominate McCain for president and he should in turn select former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as his running mate.
“Those two are far from front-runners. They trail (former Massachusetts Gov.) Mitt Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire and lag behind (former New York Mayor) Rudy Giuliani in national surveys of Republican voters, Broder writes. “But, in a series of debates, including last week’s CNN-YouTube extravaganza, McCain and Huckabee have been notable for their clarity, character and, yes, simple humanity.”
After spending the weekend in the Washington, D.C., area and attending the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore, McCain headed back to the Granite State Monday for three busy days of campaigning. He had several meet and greets and an appearance at a MySpace/MTV town hall meeting scheduled on Monday and Tuesday. The trip will wind up on Wednesday with a planned event in Manchester, where the senator will appear with Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.