Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting at the Memminger Auditorium on Dec. 17, 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Richard Ellis / Getty Images)

The most influential Iowa newspaper endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, saying the former Massachusetts governor offered "sobriety, wisdom and judgment."

The Des Moines Register's editorial board, which endorsed Romney's arch rival John McCain in the 2008 presidential contest, argued that Romney's resume -- a combination of work in the private sector, being governor of Massachusetts and righting the nation's 2002 winter Olympics – make him preferable to the other top candidates in the hunt – Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Gingrich's lack of discipline when he was speaker of the House and potential to alienate voters and Paul's isolationist policies make Romney the super choice, the editorial board argued.

"Mitt Romney is making his second bid for Iowans' support after an unsuccessful run in 2008. We did not endorse him then, but this is a different field, and he has matured as a candidate. Rebuilding the economy is the nation's top priority, and Romney makes the best case among the Republicans that he could do that," the board wrote. "He stands out in the current field of Republican candidates."

The paper also argued that voters ought to think hard about Romney's rivals' attacks that Romney is a flip-flopper on issues when it is most convenient to him.

"Though Romney has tended to adapt some positions to different times and places, he is hardly unique. It should be possible for a politician to say, "I was wrong, and I have changed my mind," the paper wrote. "… Voters will have to decide for themselves whether such subtly nuanced statements express Romney's true beliefs or if he's trying to have it both ways."

The endorsement bolsters the idea that the GOP nomination has turned into a two-man race between Romney and Gingrich. Gingrich won the endorsement of the Union Leader in New Hampshire, which holds its primaries after Iowa has its first in the nation caucuses on Jan. 3.