Barbara Vucanovich, the grand dame of Nevada Republicans, used to be allied with Newt Gingrich, serving on his leadership team when they were both were in the U.S. House.
But Vucanovich said Tuesday that while she credited the former House speaker with forming and selling the Contract with America that brought about Republican House control back in 1994, "I would be very uncomfortable with Newt as our nominee" for president.
"He really used to be erratic and I think he probably still is," Vucanovich told reporters on a call arranged by the campaign of her preferred candidate, Mitt Romney.
Vucanovich, 90, represented Northern and rural Nevada in the House from 1983 to 1997. In Congress, she was a member of the Gingrich-founded Conservative Opportunity Society and served as secretary of the Republican conference when Gingrich was speaker.
But Vucanovich said Gingrich does not have the temperament to be president. "Newt is very cocky, arrogant, unreliable. I don't want him as my nominee."
"We do want somebody who is stable, who is reliable, and who can bring this country up and help us get out of the mess we are in," Vucanovich said. Someone like Romney, she said.
This was the latest instance in which Romney campaign has put forward former House Republicans and conservatives who echo Romney's declaration that Gingrich is an "unreliable leader." At the same time, Gingrich has obtained endorsements from some of his former House charges.
Vucanovich was joined by Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who is Romney's campaign co-chairman in Nevada, and former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri, who has been on a number of these calls.
Gingirch has responded that he, not Romney, is the true heir to the conservatism of Ronald Reagan. He has accused Romney and establishment Republicans of attacking him because, he says, they are afraid of change he would bring to Washington.