(CNN) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has scored the endorsement of Bob Dole, who lauded the former Massachusetts governor in an ad Sunday in Iowa's The Des Moines Register newspaper.
The public endorsement comes one day after the Register - Iowa's largest newspaper - backed Romney in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and just over two weeks before Iowa's critical presidential caucuses on January 3.
In his advertisement, Dole said Romney is the GOP candidate is best suited to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012.
"I've known Mitt and his family for decades. His parents instilled in him a strong work ethic, rock-solid conservative values, and a deep sense of service to others," the former Kansas senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee wrote. "These traits - which have shone through in both the debates and in my own visits with him - will serve him well in the White House."
Dole also said Romney "rescued a flailing Winter Olympics when it was mired in financial scandal." And as governor of Massachusetts, Dole wrote, Romney "managed to both balance the state's budget and cut taxes while dealing with an overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature."
The Register's editorial board said Romney was the most qualified candidate competing in the caucuses.
While the paper didn't endorse Romney during his last run for president in 2007, the editorial board said voters now face a different GOP field and Romney "has matured as a candidate."
"Rebuilding the economy is the nation's top priority, and Romney makes the best case among the Republicans that he could do that," the editorial board wrote.
The board hailed Romney for his "solid credentials," saying he was the most likely candidate to see through "knee-jerk, ideological" perspectives and "bridge the political divide in Washington."
Taking issue with the two other top-tier candidates, the paper claimed Romney stood out against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whom the board called "an undisciplined partisan who would alienate, not unite, if he reverts to mean-spirited attacks on display as House speaker."
It also criticized Texas Rep. Ron Paul as someone with a libertarian ideology that would "lead to economic chaos and isolationism."
Also significant, the board somewhat defended Romney against a line of attack taken by opponents who criticize him as a "flip-flopper."
"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'," the paper wrote.
But the paper still reserved questions over his changing tune on issues such as abortion and said it was up to the voters to decide "whether such subtly nuanced statements express Romney's true beliefs or if he's trying to have it both ways."
While the paper's endorsement is highly coveted, it does not necessarily spell success for a candidate.
In the last election cycle, the paper endorsed GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who didn't actively campaign in the state and took third place in the caucuses, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pulled off a surprise victory.
The newspaper has long endorsed candidates for the general presidential election, but it began making endorsements for the caucuses in 1988.
Since then, three of its choices went on to win the contest: Dole in 1996 and 1988 and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 2000.
In addition, three endorsees eventually secured the Republican nomination: Dole in 1996, Bush in 2000 and McCain in 2008.
Only one of its chosen candidates – Bush in 2000 – went on to win the White House.
According to an American Research Group poll taken Dec. 8-11, Romney placed second in the Hawkeye State with 17% of support among likely caucus voters, while Gingrich took first with 22%. Paul tied with Romney at 17%
On Friday, Romney garnered a nod from South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley. South Carolina's primary, set for January 21, is the first presidential contest in the South and the third overall in the early voting season.
– CNN's Robert Yoon, Peter Hamby, Oliver Janney and Chris Welch contributed to this report.
WOW< the liberal paper endorses Romney? I wold never have guessed...
The Des Moines Register
Well you fools in Iowa can vote for romney or any of the teapublican clowns, but the rest of us in this great county, will pass. We don't need to go back to the stone age.
She also hates gays
Please vote for Gingrich, or Paul, or ANYONE but Romney.
A Romney/Huntsman ticket is the only one that could prevail over Barack Obama in November 2012.
And if you don't choose Romney, we can have a second term of the current administration.
How about it?
They lost me at "economic chaos and isolationism". I'm surprised they spelled "Romney" correctly after showing how little they understand this race.
America needs Mitt Romney as POTUS..GO MITT!
Sounds like an unbiased newsource there.
"It also criticized Texas Rep. Ron Paul as someone with a libertarian ideology that would “lead to economic chaos and isolationism.”
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND TAKING THE ECONOMY OUT OF THE HANDS OF PRIVATE BANKS WILL LEAD TO ECONOMIC CHAOS!!! *Looks at the latest economic data* ...o w8...
If any American isn't entirely aware that the media is trying to goad the direction of this election towards the establishment candidates, then this country may as well start digging its own grave.
If the GOP really wants to be in the White House they need to realize everyone but Romney is too conservative to garner enough support from the middle and a few on the left edging towards the middle come November 2012.
Why would I vote for Romney or Gingrich or Ron?
All of them will stop my social security check and cancel my Medicare!
WHY? The American People have not endorsed him and he claims he doesn't know why? How about because he is a 1%er, who has never served his country, flip flops on every key issue, has carved up companies and sent jobs overseas, and is only supported by big business..... NOT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. The Register has done Iowans and Americans a huge dis-service. Nice Going! As for the other candidates..... Paul is cirling Neptune, Bachmann's husband would bring her down eventually, how Perry got elected Governor of Texas is beyond me, Santorum is ready to sign on as a VP with anyone, Newt has so much excess baggage it is ridiculous (and why is he still referred to as Mr. Speaker. That is an insult to anyone who has served as Speaker). I am an independent and I beleive the only real candidate is Huntsman. Why he isn't getting any respect is beyond me. With the exception of Santorum he is probably the only candidate that hasn't been ahead of Romney at one time or another in the polls. WHY? America does not like Romney and never has. On that note ..... Terrific endorsement!
sure will be glad when santorm and bachman get out....
Des Moines Register is a rag of a news paper. This comment has nothing really to do with this article, but the paper isnt great. They always change their format daily and move and hide certain sections of the paper making it a pain in the @ss to find things like the Sports section or "Iowa Life". Other papers probably do this, but Des Moines Register does it so like they actually know what your going to look for and purposely hide it.
Whoo hoo! President Mitt Romney 2012!
What a rag this newspaper is
Whoo hoo! President Romney 2012!
Another example of bought media! RP 2012!
Just another example of paid for media! Ron Paul 2012
Great Depression, Savings & Loan Debacle, Great Recession
Voters listen to words and ignore the actions.
Voters continue to put them back.
If "matured as a candidate" means abandoning every pretense of principle or even intelligence, then, by gosh, Mitt has certainly matured as a candidate. And, by the way, you couldn't design a state less likely to be representative of the American electorate than Iowa so whoever wins the caucus has won nothing more significant than a corn dog photo op.
They choose the right man. Compare Romney with the others. Compared to him the others are weak ; they are not leaders, and they are not level-headed . His ability to see both sides of anything and weigh it before he decides is to his credit. Some may call him "moderate" That's a complement. An old saying goes : " there is strength in moderation" . Romney has been a leader all his life, from the time he was a very young man. He has everything we should want in a man.. He's a sucess and a person who gets things done. I also find him a warm and very friendly modest person. He attractive and llooks and acts ike a president . For those who are so worried about "conservatism " -realize this : it is an extreme, and an extreme is always a failure–it falls on it's own sword, with it's ridgid ,unrealistic expectations .
Thank you D. Moines Registor for making that sensible choice.
Americans need to research the foundations of Romney's faith. Islam is nothing more than "medieval mormonism". When you dig deep enough, you find that what Mohammed did in the 6th century, Joseph Smith did in the 19th century. They both kept only the parts of the Bible they liked, threw out the parts they didn't, and changed the rest. The only real difference is that Mohammed added a violent act as a last resort to "paradise".
Who cares? It's a newspaper...
"Only one of its chosen candidates – Bush in 2000 – went on to win the White House."
If they wanted to pick the winner they should have endorsed Ron Paul.
I wasn't on board at first, but he's clearly got something going over there that's hard to argue against. He's got my vote, and America is catching onto him.