A bevy of prominent New York Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney's candidacy for the presidency Tuesday, saying the former Massachusetts governor represents the GOP's best chance to beat President Obama.
And in saying so, some of them said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would likely fare far worse against Obama -- and might just pull other Republicans on the ballot down to defeat, as well.
"I think Mitt Romney represents the best chance for Republicans to win the White House," said former Erie County Republican Chairman Robert E. Davis.
"I just don't see Newt Gingrich beating Barack Obama. He's controversial."
What's more, Davis said, Gingrich's lack of appeal to a broad range of voters could damage the entire 2012 Republican ticket if he were the party's presidential nominee.
While Gingrich has proved to be popular among tea party Republicans, John Faso -- a former Assembly minority leader and GOP gubernatorial candidate -- said Romney "will appeal to the broad center."
Asked about Gingrich, Faso said: "He's a great idea man, but I don't think he is a viable candidate for president. I think that during his speakership, he had some great successes, but also some notable difficulties."
Faso said Democrats would run a harshly negative campaign to exploit Gingrich's difficulties, which include paying a $300,000 fine for using tax-exempt groups for political purposes while serving as speaker.
Meanwhile, Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards said: "Our leader has to have the capacity to understand the economy and jobs and job creation. That's not where Newt's strengths lie."
Among those lavishing praise on Romney was Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy.
"The biggest goal should be picking the candidate who is most capable of defeating President Obama in November," Langworthy said. "Mitt Romney's experience in business, his experience in government and his overall accomplishments make him that candidate."
Langworthy said he was particularly impressed with Romney's performance in debates. "He's the one you could see going toe-to-toe with Barack Obama," Langworthy said.
Niagara County Republican Chairman Michael J. Norris also stressed Romney's business and government experience and said he would be an appealing GOP presidential candidate in Western New York.
Former Rep. Jack F. Quinn Jr., Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and former Erie County GOP Chairman James Domagalski were also on the list of 45 prominent Republicans backing Romney.
The list also includes Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-Staten Island, and Rep. Nan A. Hayworth, R-Bedford, but not Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, who has said he has no plans yet to endorse a candidate.
Romney announced the New York endorsements, saying: "I am so pleased to have the support of these New York leaders. They know how necessary it is that we create an economic climate that allows us to create jobs and rebuild the middle class."