The Sioux City editorial board has just released an endorsement, in online form, of Republican presidential Mitt Romney in advance of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. The print edition Sunday will prominently feature the endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor.

The Journal endorsement is the first by a major Iowa newspaper prior to the caucuses. The five edit board members looked at the skills sets and life experiences of the candidates, and came away with the conclusion that Romney is the best Republican in the field to move ahead to face President Barack Obama.

The Journal also endorsed Romney four years ago, prior to the January 2008 caucuses.

From this year's piece: "Within this year's Republican presidential field, Romney again stands out as the candidate who is best prepared through experience, skills and qualities to lead the country.

"... Through successful, executive decision-making experience in both the private and public sectors, Romney understands economics and fiscal principles in a real-world way. In other words, he's walked the walk. In this year's Republican field, he is the candidate most capable of not only articulating a blueprint for a stronger economy and the restoration of fiscal sanity in Washington, but of assembling a high-caliber team of advisors, forging consensus within Congress and rallying the nation in support of it."

Also 48 months ago," target="_blank">the Journal endorsed Obama from the field of Democratic Party caucus candidates, taking the stance that a Romney-Obama contest would make for the best framing of issues. Of course, Romney faltered in early 2008 and" target="_blank">John McCain became the GOP nominee.

Romney on Nov. 22 received the" target="_blank">endorsement of U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and on Friday got the" target="_blank">endorsement of former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, while former Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants on Nov. 27 wrote a" target="_blank">Journal column endorsing Romney too. Such kudos are starting to stack up.

Here's a bit from Rants: "I've watched the series of GOP debates asking myself: Is this really the best my party has to offer? The gaffes. The lack of intellectual curiosity. The embarrassing revelations. For Republicans to slough off or excuse any of it is a profound disservice to our party. We wouldn't cut Democrats any slack for the same transgressions.

"Through it all Romney is the candidate to emerge unscathed. That requires both discipline and competence. While Republicans say they don't think about electability, but prefer ideological perfection, the ability to effectively run a national campaign against the Obama team does matter."