Gingrich, right, with wife Callista (Jim Cole/AP)
Newt Gingrich is back in action this week.
A national poll released Tuesday shows the former House Speaker in third place, his campaign is touting $800,000 raised between now and Oct. 1, and as bad press has dragged down his competition, Gingrich has coasted along unscathed between well-received debate performances.
Given that in August Gingrich's campaign was imploding, this is all significant good news for the candidate.
But former Gingrich advisor Rich Galen says it's not exactly time for Gingrich to celebrate.
"The bar for getting up in the stratosphere is pretty high," Galen, who advised Gingrich when he served as Speaker, told Yahoo News Wednesday. Galen compared Gingrich to a baseball player hitting .135 who adds 30 points to his average. "That's still a long way from being a 300-hitter."
"It is a two-person race," Galen said. "[Mitt] Romney's always one of the people, and it depends on who is riding the wave . . . who is the second person. And it's not clear to me that it will ever be Gingrich, that he'll ever get to that point where he just becomes the second guy."
Galen noted that while $800,000 is a hefty sum, it's dwarfed by his competitors' totals. Rick Perry, for example, reported $17.2 million raised over the course of a month and a half.
Still, there is much good news for Gingrich. He has used debates to his advantage, promoting his conservative agenda and his fiscal policies. What's more the House Speaker who famously characterized himself as a "bomb thrower" in the heyday of the 1990s Republican revolution came off as the calm and reasonable candidate during the last debate's brawls.
"I think the more I've been in the debates the more that they've been able to go to Newt.org and look at the 21st Century Contract with America and just see the sheer depth of serious thought that I have put into and all my advisers have put into designing solution for America's problems and getting us back on the right track, and I think every week we gained a little ground," Gingrich told Fox News host Neil Cavuto Tuesday. "We're very excited by how this is evolving and how rapidly it's accelerating."
Gingrich seems to have shrugged off earlier campaign troubles including criticism he received for taking a trip to Greece with his wife Callista--a move that prompted mass staff resignations--and reports of his luxe Tiffany & Co. purchases.
Though Gingrich hasn't captured much of the spotlight since those missteps, he's recently taken several measures to engage the 2012 field.
Gingrich recently tried to capitalize on Rick Perry's flat tax proposal by positioning himself as the first flat-tax advocate, and he engaged Herman Cain directly by organizing a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Cain.
"We don't know what's going to happen," Galen said.
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