Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) - The Tampa Tribune endorsed Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who the newspaper said is an “innovative problem-solver with rock-hard conservative credentials,” over Mitt Romney, whom it called the “safer choice.”
Sunday’s endorsement from the city’s second-largest newspaper that leans conservative comes two days before Florida’s primary election in which Romney is favored to win.
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Despite potential areas of weakness from the former House speaker, the editorial said Gingrich is the best Republican candidate to “take the fight” to President Barack Obama.
“Sure, he can be grandiose. His personal life has been, to put it kindly, complicated. But he has proved his ability to effect change – in a hurry. And this is what the nation needs,” the editorial read.
The editorial page editors said they believe Gingrich has learned from the “painful experience” of facing ethics violations at the end of his two decades in Congress, which are the subject of a Romney television ad released in Florida on Sunday.
While Gingrich and Romney both vow to repeal Obama’s health care law, the Tampa Tribune raised the question of Obama’s plan being based partly on the Massachusetts health care system implemented when Romney was governor.
“There are important differences in the plans, but it takes some explaining. Gingrich would be able to attack the looming entitlement without apology,” the paper said.
On Saturday, Gingrich picked up the endorsement of former presidential candidate Herman Cain. The two will campaign together in Tampa on Monday.
Romney received the endorsement of the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday.
In 2008, The Tampa Tribune endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain over Romney in the 2008 GOP presidential primary.
– Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN