(CNN) - Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich credited his recent rise in the polls to being the "adult in the room" at presidential debates, watching on as front-runners engage in bitter arguments that took center stage.
"People like Rush (Limbaugh) began saying I was the adult in the room and people watched and some of my colleagues began bickering," Gingrich said on CNN's "John King, USA" Friday. "I think the bickering really shrank them."
While not naming names, Gingrich pointed to presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, who got locked in a fiery match over immigration at the CNN Western Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas last month. The verbal brawl was thought to signal a brewing feud between the two candidates.
Meanwhile, writers and pundits have given Gingrich strong marks for his debate performances, highlighting his professor-like qualities and detailed knowledge of the issues. He's scheduled to debate with front-runner Herman Cain on Saturday in Texas.
In October, the former House speaker saw a large spike in fundraising, as well as a significant boost in the polls.
According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Friday, Gingrich came in fourth place, taking top choice among 12% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, up 6 percentage points for Gingrich since the last poll was conducted in September.
Gingrich was in third place at 10% support in a Quinnipiac University national poll released Wednesday, up 7 points from late August. He stood at 12% in a recent Fox News Poll and at 10% in a recent CBS/New York Times survey.
But his campaign got off to a rocky start this summer when Gingrich faced criticism over credit lines of up to $1 million at Tiffany & Co.
And shortly after Gingrich took a nearly two-week absence from the campaign to go on a Mediterranean cruise, seven members of his senior campaign staff resigned en masse, citing the "commitment of candidate time to the campaign trail."
Speaking to CNN Chief National Correspondent John King on Friday, Gingrich said the early campaign phase was painful, but he believes he's now back on track.
"It was painful at the time," Gingrich said. "It helped us to sort out what we're doing, why we're doing it. This is a much better campaign for having gotten through the summer, and I actually feel that we've got a very good base to be competitive in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and on to Florida."
- CNN's Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.