Dallas (CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich might not want to count on a presidential endorsement from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Haley sharply admonished Gingrich for his comments over the weekend disparaging the Medicare plan proposed by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as "radical change" and "right-wing social engineering."
The remarks opened a floodgate of conservative criticism, with elite opinion writers on down to Iowa voters accusing Gingrich of throwing his own party under the bus and making it easier for Democrats to attack the Ryan plan.
Haley, whose promise to endorse a presidential candidate has made her a key power broker in the Republican primary fight, joined in the chorus Tuesday and said she is "terribly disappointed" in Gingrich.
"What he said was absolutely unfortunate," Haley told CNN in a phone interview. "Here you've got Representative Ryan trying to bring common sense to this world of insanity, and Newt absolutely cut him off at the knees."
"When you have a conservative fighting for real change, the last thing we need is a presidential candidate cutting him off at the knees," she added.
The controversial Ryan plan proposes replacing the current government-run Medicare program with a voucher system that would allow recipients to buy health care on the private market.
After Gingrich criticized the plan during his appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, his spokesman Rick Tyler attempted to clarify his remarks, saying there is "little daylight" between Gingrich and Ryan when it comes to Medicare reform.
"Newt would fully support Ryan if it were not compulsory," Tyler told the Weekly Standard. "We need to design a better system that people will voluntarily move to. That is a major difference in design but not substance."
Asked if presidential hopefuls should back the Ryan budget plan in its entirety, Haley answered: "What I can tell you is, the people of South Carolina support Representative Ryan. The people of South Carolina support conservatives who are trying to push real change, and the people of South Carolina expect their presidential candidates to back them up when they show courage."