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In battle of New Hampshire, Palin wins front page

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In the world of New Hampshire politics, the Union Leader newspaper still packs a punch. And on Friday there's no better way of judging just how Sarah Palin's visit obscured the Mitt Romney campaign launch than by looking at its front page.

The former Alaska governor gets the biggest splash with the headline, "Palin hits the Seacoast." Her bus tour showed up for a clambake in the Portsmouth area, just a dozen or so miles away from where the putative GOP frontrunner made his candidacy official.

Romney's announcement wasn't totally overshadowed; he gets a thumbnail photo and a tease to the story inside the paper. But it pales in comparison to the shot of Palin waving as she walks with daughter Piper for a stop in her not-a-campaign. There were more prominent headlines than Romney's about the death of the state's former governor and yes, even a rabid fox.

The Union Leader is an overtly conservative newspaper and often uses its front page to make a political statement. When it endorsed John McCain in 2008, it not only had front-page editorials praising the Arizona senator but a series of articles blasting Romney, also a candidate at the time.

Team Romney understands the influence of the Manchester-based paper. The Union Leader website for days has featured prominent online advertising promoting Romney's kickoff.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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