Conservative Backlash Against Romney in New Hampshire

As the New Hampshire Presidential Primary approaches, the increased focus on the candidates and the issues appears to be costing Mitt Romney vital support in his close fight with John McCain.

The New Hampshire Union Leader published a devastating attack on Romney, calling into question his conservative credentials:

THERE IS A reason Mitt Romney has not received a single newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire. It's the same reason his poll numbers are dropping. He has not been able to convince the people of this state that he's the conservative he says he is.

Like a lot of people in New Hampshire, we wanted to believe Romney. We gave him the benefit of the doubt. We listened very carefully to his expertly rehearsed sales pitch.

But in the end he didn't close the deal for us. Now, two weeks before the primary, the same is happening with voters. Republicans and right-leaning independents in New Hampshire gave Romney a chance. His events have not been sparsely attended. Nor have they been scarce. He's made more campaign stops here this year than any other Republican, even John McCain.

And after a year of comparing Romney to McCain, of sizing up the two in person and in the media, Granite Staters are turning back to McCain. The former Navy pilot, once written off by the national media establishment, is now in a statistical dead heat with Romney here. How could that be? Romney has all the advantages: money, organization, geographic proximity, statesman-like hair, etc.

But he lacks something John McCain has in spades: conviction.
And that has been the rap against Romney from the beginning; that his johnny-come-lately conservatism on social issues will come back to haunt him when a close examination of his record as Massachussets governor reveals his flip flops on abortion, gay marriage, and other issues.

McCain, no rock ribbed conservative himself, at least offers a more conservative alternative than Romney. And when the Union Leader - the largest and most influential newspaper in the state - goes after a candidate as they do in this piece today, you can be sure many conservatives are paying attention.