Santorum hits Gingrich as 'erratic conservative'

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum continued his attacks on Newt Gingrich, Sunday, calling the former House speaker an "erratic conservative" and questioning his discipline as a candidate.

"It's a choice between a moderate and an erratic conservative, someone who on a lot of the major issues has been just wrong," said Santorum on ABC's This Week on Sunday of his GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Gingrich, dismissing suggestions the contest was now a two-man race after Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina.

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Santorum, locked in a fight with Gingrich for the support of conservative voters who have not rallied behind front-runner Mitt Romney, has adopted a new tack: raising questions about the former speaker's temperament and discipline.  

During a debate in Charleston, S.C. on Thursday, Santorum had hit Gingrich for his "grandiosity" and unpredictability saying that voters feared that with Gingrich "something’s going to pop, and we can’t afford that in a nominee."

ABC host George Stephanopoulos asked Santorum if he was "saying that Newt Gingrich is too unstable to be the Republican nominee."

"The issue is discipline. The issue is leadership," responded Santorum.

"If you look at his leadership, when he was in the House of Representatives, there was a conservative coup within three years of him becoming the speaker and eventually was forced out because of, well, you know, issues of being able to focus, execute, discipline, order, not taking , you know, not doing things that, that are coming out of left field.

"You see this repeatedly," said Santorum. "This is not the kind of leadership we need to take on Barack Obama."

Pressed by Stephanopolous on whether he believed Gingrich could "be trusted with the nomination or trusted with the White House," Santorum called his rival "a very high-risk candidate."

"A lot of ideas, brilliant in that respect, but as far as focus, as far as being able to rely on him to come out and, and deliver that consistent, strong message and not undermine our folks in the House and Senate, not undermine some of the basic things. Look, sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi is not a particularly, not a particularly solid conservative thing when you're out there," he said.

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