Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay now has kind words for his onetime colleague, Newt Gingrich.

"He's proven that he can lead," DeLay said in an interview with "America's News HQ" Sunday. "He won the election in 1995, then leading that election he became Speaker of the House."

The comments were a seismic shift from DeLay's 2007 assessment of Gingrich, when he described his fellow Republican as an "ineffective Speaker" in his memoir, "No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight."

"[Gingrich] knew nothing about running meetings and nothing about driving an agenda" DeLay writes in the memoir. "Nearly every other day he had a new agenda, a new direction he wanted us to take. It was impossible to follow him."

Now DeLay tells Fox News that the former House Speaker is part of an impressive field of contenders for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

"All of our candidates--I mean we've got Newt Gingrich, we've got a former senator who was a leader in the Senate, we've got five to six governors--they've all proven their mettle with their records," said DeLay.

Still, the former Majority Leader says it's too early to pick a Republican front-runner just yet, telling Fox News "Who knows? We are so early in this process, let's see what happens."