[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/21/art.union.cnn.jpg caption ="The New Hampshire Union Leader published a scathing Op-ed on the front page of Wednesday’s newspaper."] (CNN) - Days after her first foray this election cycle into New Hampshire politics, Sarah Palin is getting a chilly reception from one of the crucial presidential primary state's most conservative and influential newspapers.
In a blistering Op-Ed on the front page of the New Hampshire Union-Leader's Wednesday edition, publisher Joseph McQuaid writes the former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee knows little about the Granite State and even less about its residents.
"Former Gov. Palin isn't making these endorsements because, as she claims, she has spent time in New Hampshire and thus knows that the people here are a lot like Alaskans. She spent a few hours here on one day during the 2008 Presidential election. That's still more time than she spent getting to know Ayotte, but it takes quite a bit longer to know New Hampshire," McQuaid writes in the editorial.
Palin waded into the New Hampshire political landscape Monday when she backed former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte's Senate bid. The "Mama Grizzly," as Palin called Ayotte, is the frontrunner in a primary race against three other Republicans. Her endorsement was greeted with enthusiasm from Ayotte, herself a social conservative running in a state where Republicans are generally more concerned with fiscal policies.
The endorsement was Palin's first political move in the state, which will once again hold the first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary in February 2012. No other potential 2012 presidential candidate has weighed in on the contested primary.
"Kelly is the strongest commonsense conservative who can win in the fall," Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "I knew I liked her when I met her earlier this year, and I know this Granite Grizzly will represent New Hampshire with distinction in Washington."
Palin has already backed midterm candidates in the other key early states of Iowa and South Carolina, but has not visited New Hampshire since 2008. As the No. 2 on Sen. John McCain's presidential ticket, Palin visited the Granite State once in mid-October of that year.
A spokesman for Ayotte said the campaign is happy to have the endorsement - despite Union Leader editorial - but stressed Ayotte has strong grassroots support in the state.
"The paper is correct that the election will be decided by New Hampshire voters, and Kelly is happy to have more grassroots support and New Hampshire support than all the other candidates combined," said Communications Director Jeff Grappone. "The reality is Kelly Ayotte is the choice of New Hampshire Republicans and conservatives."
Grappone also said the campaign would welcome Palin to come campaign in the state on their behalf.
But McQuaid, whose paper has long played a key role in shaping the state's key presidential primary, says New Hampshire voters should pay little heed to Palin.
"Don't fret over what a "Mama Grizzly" from Alaska does," he writes. "Right now, Granite Staters have more to worry about in keeping bears away from bird feeders."
Howie Kurtz, a Washington Post media critic and CNN contributor, said the Union-Leader editorial is emblematic of the state's independent streak.
"The publisher's column is significant because it plays the home-state card–that is, who is this outsider from Alaska to tell our Republicans how to vote?–in a state that prides itself on its independence," he said.
The paper endorsed the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008, though made no mention of Palin in that editorial.