Mitt Romney's failure to push many of his popularity polls above 25 percent as rivals have come and gone marks a concern that he can't energize the Republican base, something backers of Newt Gingrich claim he could do.
As Gingrich continues to challenge Romney for the nomination just 29 days before the Iowa Caucus, supporters are making the case that Gingrich is the best one situated to fire up conservatives and capture independents, the key to the 2012 election according to multiple polls. [Vote: Would Cain's Endorsement Help or Hurt Gingrich?]
"When our based is depressed, like it was in 1992 with Bush 41, 1996 with Bob Dole and 2008 with John McCain, we lose. We've got to energize our base first, then grab a majority of the independents. Newt can do it," said a longtime House GOP adviser.
"Newt revs up the base and he can grab 55 percent to 60 percent of the Indies, making him president," added the adviser.
As Newt surges, there is some concern in GOP circles that he is too controversial and sometimes bombastic to beat President Obama in 2012. But as those worries grow, allies of Gingrich are starting their own bid to argue that the former House speaker should not be taken lightly.
To counter press reports, like one today in the Washington Post questioning whether Gingrich really poses a threat to Obama, associates are dispatching emails and memos describing Gingrich as a key conservative fighter that brought the GOP to power in 1994 and somebody who was able to push former President Bill Clinton to balance the budget and reform welfare. [Check out 11 reasons why Newt Gingrich will be the GOP nominee.]
Along the way, he proved to be a tough battler.
"You should have asked former Speaker Jim Wright what he thought about the threat posed by Gingrich. And then call former Speaker Tom Foley and ask him," said a key Gingrich associate. "Gingrich has been like a dog with a bone for the past 30 years and has dealt more punishment to the Democrats than any other Republican."