(CNN) - The Detroit Free Press threw its support behind Mitt Romney on Thursday, marking the candidate's second endorsement from a Michigan newspaper in as many days.
While the article praised Romney as the most qualified candidate with an impressive record, the editorial board did not hold back in criticizing the Michigan native over the way he has run his campaign.
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With less than a week before Michigan voters head to the polls for Tuesday's primary, the article came one day after a Detroit News editorial supported Romney, who won the primary in 2008 and whose father once governed the state.
The Free Press argued Romney has morphed into a faux far-right conservative over the last year in an attempt to compete with "stauncher conservatives of lesser achievement and stature" in the race.
"He is chest-beating and straining to prove his ideological bona fides (recently, he called himself 'severely' conservative), rather than focusing on the nuanced, sophisticated strength of his record," the editorial read Thursday.
Referring to Rick Santorum as "zealous," Newt Gingrich as "impulsive," and Ron Paul as "backward-thinking," the paper said Romney will "need to stop mimicking his GOP rivals' simplicity" if he wants to secure the Republican nomination.
The editorial also hit Romney over his 2008 opposition to the so-called auto bailout, widely credited with saving the auto industry.
Romney has repeatedly defended his position and still stands by it, arguing that auto companies needed to go through "managed bankruptcy" in order to shed excess costs.
But the paper seemed to give the candidate a pass on the issue, describing his position as "a sign of questionable leadership qualities not otherwise associated with Romney" and added "he has been better than that before."
Mostly, the article called on Romney to tone down his "severely conservative" rhetoric and return to "the more reasoned leader he used to be."
"Romney is the best bet Republicans have, but the others would do both him and the nation a favor by raising the level of debate, broadening the discussion and focusing on honest solutions for, rather than ideological ranting about, the nation's problems," the paper said.