Wrapped in Newsprint

New Hampshire newspapers are not being kind to their friendly neighbor to the south. First, the liberal editorial board of the Concord Monitor put out a scathing un-endorsement titled “Romney should not be the next president.” Then, this morning, the conservative (and pro-McCain) New Hampshire Union Leader ran its own editorial with this money line: “But (Romney) lacks something John McCain has in spades: conviction.”

All of this is somewhat predictable from two of the three top New Hampshire papers. Romney wasn’t expecting any gifts from the Monitor , and the Union Leader has outspokenly supported McCain.

Most telling, then, is the partisanship Romney showed in his responses to the two papers. Today, Romney sent a release to journalists blasting the Monitor ’s liberal editorial page. The release then lists all of the prominent conservatives backing Romney, which is tantamount to Mitt showing off his chest of endorsements to assert his conservative bona fides. Who needs liberals when you’ve got Tom Tancredo?

When I asked the campaign to respond to the Union Leader editorial, I received another GOP-centric response , one laced with a mix of caution and aggression. The following bit was especially illuminating:

We, of course, respect the Union-Leader’s right to voice their opinion, but the differences between Governor Romney and Senator McCain are clear. We disagree with Senator McCain’s joining Democrats to vote against Republican plans for tax relief, his pro-amnesty immigration proposal with Senator Kennedy and his McCain-Feingold legislation which hurt conservative advocacy efforts.

Interestingly, every negative point the statement raises about McCain’s record has to do with his bipartisan efforts in the Senate. Mixed with Romney’s harsh release against the liberal Monitor editorial board, it seems Romney thinks he has to be as pure of a conservative as possible to win in New Hampshire. Considering New Hampshire lets independents vote in its primaries (many of whom favor McCain), that’s a risky strategy.

Read the campaign’s full response here .