(CNN) – One of Alabama's largest papers endorsed presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday, arguing he would bring a level of business and government competence unparalleled in the GOP field to the White House.
Romney was an "extremely successful businessman and was a very competent governor who accomplished much of his agenda by working across party lines," the Birmingham News said, explaining he has engaged in "shape-shifting... to appeal to conservative primary voters who believe he is too moderate."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"So, it's not unfair to wonder who the real Romney is," the paper continued. "We expect we'll find that out in the general election, and that Romney will prove to be a strong candidate."
Romney has to his credit experience leading the 2002 Olympic Games and as governor of Massachusetts, where he led in education reform and health care, the paper wrote.
The editorial detailed detracting characteristics against Romney's rivals. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania not only lost his last Senate race, but has "side-tracked the debate onto social issues, a place that won't do the party any good in the general election."
Of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the paper said: "Gingrich is a smart man with plenty of ideas, some of them good, but his impulsiveness and recklessness in his political and personal lives are high hurdles to overcome."
And Ron Paul, it wrote, is not a serious candidate and a "libertarian in Republican clothing."
The paper endorsed Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain in their parties' primaries last cycle, then eventually backed McCain in the general election. This cycle, it said Republican voters should "vote for whom they believe is the strongest candidate - the man they believe can defeat Obama."