Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) - Sensing opportunity in a state with a vibrant tea party movement, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is beefing up his campaign presence in South Carolina.
Gingrich's national Coalitions Director, Adam Waldeck, is re-locating to Columbia to run political operations in the first-in-the-south primary state.
The Gingrich campaign is also planning to roll out several tea party endorsements in the Charleston area in the coming days. One prominent tea party leader in the state, Columbia activist Allen Olsen, endorsed Gingrich in September.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the campaign is building "a grassroots firewall" in South Carolina, a state that could be friendly to Gingrich given his roots in nearby Georgia.
Hammond said that with Texas Gov. Rick Perry's poll numbers flagging, Gingrich now has space to "emerge as the southern candidate" in the race.
"Speaker Gingrich is best-positioned to capture the anti-establishment fervor that is out there and build a grassroots network," he argued.
The former House Speaker has ticked up in the polls of late following a series of strong debate performances, but he still has a long way to go after a very public campaign implosion damaged his hopes earlier this year.
Gingrich registered at 8% in an American Research Group poll of South Carolina Republicans released earlier this week, putting him in fourth place behind businessman Herman Cain (26%), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (25%), and Perry (15%).