Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, trailing in most polls in the volatile Republican presidential nominating contest, won the endorsement of the Boston Globe on Thursday, days before a primary vote in New Hampshire.
The Massachusetts-based newspaper, with a sizeable readership in the neighboring state that holds a primary election on January 10, praised Huntsman's solid credentials and a "far-sighted" vision on issues such as renewable energy, education and immigration.
"With a strong record as governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, arguably the most important overseas diplomatic post, Huntsman's credentials match those of anyone in the field," the Globe said in an editorial.
"He would be the best candidate to seize this moment in GOP history, and the best-prepared to be president."
Huntsman governed Utah on conservative principles but "put the interests of his state ahead of ideology" when he accepted federal stimulus money for his state in the recent recession, the Globe said.
His acceptance of Democratic President Barack Obama's offer to serve as ambassador to China "attests to his sincerity when he vows to lead in a bipartisan spirit," it said.
The Globe said Huntsman and Republican frontrunner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney were the only "truly presidential" candidates in the race. Romney leads polls in New Hampshire and won a caucus contest in Iowa on Tuesday.
"But while Romney proceeds cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination, Huntsman has been bold," the newspaper said.
A 7 News/Suffolk University tracking poll of likely New Hampshire voters showed Huntsman tied with former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich in fourth place with just 7 percent support, trailing Romney, who had 41 percent, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Senator Rick Santorum.
(Reporting By Paul Eckert, editing by Chris Wilson)