(CNN) - Call it a “nonendorsement” endorsement.
The Seattle Times, the largest daily newspaper in the solidly blue state of Washington, on Thursday picked Mitt Romney as the “default choice” for Republican voters in the state’s upcoming contest on Saturday.
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“The former Massachusetts governor has the most potential in a thin field to represent his party in head-to-head competition with Democratic President Barack Obama,” the editorial read.
While the editorial board complimented Romney as the most “practical” GOP candidate and the one most likely to engage in “clarifying discussion” about big issues, it wasted no time in pointing out the candidate’s flaws.
Describing Romney as “his own biggest impediment,” the editorial mentioned the candidate’s opposition to the auto bailout, as well as statements he’s made on his own wealth. It argued the candidate “does not excite voters,” saying he has “precious little gift for connecting with voters on a human level.”
The board also characterized Romney’s primary win in his native state of Michigan on Tuesday as one he barely “squeaked out” and hit the Republican for “studiously” avoiding discussions on foreign policy.
But compared with the other three GOP candidates still in the race - Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich - the editorial said the former Massachusetts governor was the most experienced with his “business credentials and service as an elective executive.”
“The expectation is for Romney and Obama to have an authentic, meaningful conversation about the future of the United States,” the editorial read.
The newspaper endorsed Obama in the general election in 2008 but said the president "has to make the case for another four years in the White House."
– CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.