(CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the tables have turned in the Republican race for the White House, arguing on Wednesday that he's replacing Mitt Romney as the GOP's most steady presidential front-runner.
"I would have thought originally it was going to be a 'Mitt and Not-Mitt'," Gingrich said, talking about his early predictions for the top two Republican contenders. "It may turn out to be 'Newt and Not-Newt,' and that's a very different formula."
Gingrich has seen his poll numbers spike in the last month, taking him from the single digits into the top tier and in a close match with the former Massachusetts governor for the top spot.
"We're having to redesign our campaign strategy because we are at least 60 days ahead of where I thought we would be," Gingrich said in a Fox News interview.
A growing tension can be seen between the two candidates through comments made in interviews in recent days, in which both Romney and Gingrich have taken new lines of attack.
On Monday, Gingrich touted his conservative bona fides, saying he was "a lot more" conservative than Romney. He underlined his statement with comments by painting Romney as a flip-flopper.
Romney fired back Tuesday, calling his opponent a "lifelong politician," a loaded phrase at a time of strong anti-Washington sentiment.
But in the end, Gingrich said the American people want "Newt" because they "need someone who can debate Obama."
And should he secure the Republican nomination, Gingrich talked about his strategy to convince Obama to accept his "debate challenge."
"If the president has not accepted, I will announce (at the GOP convention in June) that the White House is now my scheduler, and wherever the president goes, I will follow him four hours later," Gingrich said in the interview.
"That means you have Gingrich taking apart the Obama speech three or four times a day."
On the campaign trail, Gingrich has repeated that if he winds up competing with Obama for the general election, he would challenge him to seven Lincoln-Douglas style debates, modeled after the long philosophical discussions between Abraham Lincoln and his opponent Stephen Douglas in 1858.
Gingrich said each debate would last three hours with no moderator. However, Gingrich jabs, Obama is allowed to bring a teleprompter "to make it fair."
The Commission on Presidential Debates has already scheduled the face-offs for next fall, which include three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.
Eventually, Gingrich, a former college professor, said he thinks Obama would agree to his proposal of extra debates out of "pure ego."
"How can you be a Columbia, Harvard Law, editor of the Law Review, best orator in the Democratic Party and be afraid of some guy who taught at West Georgia College? How is he going to look himself in the mirror and say I can't stand up to Newt?" Gingrich said.
Be careful what you ask for!! Newt must be thinking..... (Obama) can't be any smarter the the mental giants I've been facing!! Right Newt??
I say "Not Newt." his adultery and number of wives preclude Newt winning the general election. Can you envision "Calista" as First Lady? Heaven help us!
By John E. Yang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 22 1997; Page A01
The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reprimand House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and order him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in the House's 208-year history it has disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing.
The ethics case and its resolution leave Gingrich with little leeway for future personal controversies, House Republicans said. Exactly one month before yesterday's vote, Gingrich admitted that he brought discredit to the House and broke its rules by failing to ensure that financing for two projects would not violate federal tax law and by giving the House ethics committee false information. (Enough Said)!
Newt Gingrich is a flip flopper. Ron Paul's ad puts it nicely.
I am a Republican. I don't think Obama is a good president. But if Gingrich is the nominee, I will stay home.
Someone please remind this guy that's he is in fact a spiteful, grotesque little man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Newt is only an intellectual in his perverted fascinations and nothing more than a pusillanimous opportunist outside of them. If the world were populated with the likes of Newt, we would all cower in our bathrooms for fear of having to interact with another human as disgusting as ourselves. Thank you Newt, for making me thankful every day that I can control your arrogant mouth with the click of a button. You are as relevant to the history of humanity as the pimple on my A.
I hate to say it, but I'd love to see these debates...if they remain civil and fair. I'd say a moderator would still be needed, if for nothing else than to give both candidates equal speaking time. But at the end of the day, the chance to see Newt get knocked down a peg sounds like great entertainment.
Newt don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
The establishment Republicans are behind Romney. The rest of the Republicans, the Tea Party and social conservatives, seem to be having trouble evaluating candidates. It usually takes about a month of media scrutiny and coverage before they figure out who they were supporting is. So how will they react when they find out that Newt is a man who:
1. marries his mistresses when his wives are in ill health, and was claiming infidelity is grounds for impeachment,
2. has flip-flopped on the Ryan budget,
3. supports a path to legality for illegal immigrants,
4. has a string of ethics violations,
5. works for Freddie Mac at lobbyist rates giving history lessons, and
6. has worked with Nancy Pelosi on combatting climate change.
Oh Newt, you are a blowhard along with many things that can't be mentioned in good society. How can a man who was chatised and made to resign not only your top position but your seat also even be considered for the top position in the land? you are an insult to all Americans and your party. If the party puts you forward as the man for the job it doesn't say much good about how low the Republican party has gone. And if they do choose you then every american should choose to vote the republican party out of existence.
I would love to see Obama tear up the wee little salamander, but unfortunately he won't get that far. You get this feeling some woman is going to come out and tell us what kind of scumbag he is.
Don't get to confident Newt. You may have peaked to early...I am betting you are going to go the way of Bachmann, Perry, and Cain...
Debate your third wife
No.. the race (general election) will come down to Obama and which ever clown comes hopping out of the clown car the Republicans currently call their line up of Presidential contenders...
Newt to be , or Newt Not to be , that is the question !
Gingrich / Berlusconi 2012
If this campaign is based on issues, ideas, and REAL solutions- Newt will win in a Reagan like landslide.
Last time around SNL did the "does Obama need another pillow" skit. This time around when he debates President Gingrich they will have to do a "does Obama need a fresh pair of pants" skit.
Vote Ron Paul... The Anti-Newt!
The arrogance of this man is simply appalling! The more I see of him, the less I like him.
Yet another reason I cannot vote for Newt. If my party nominates a man who has betrayed his family multiple times, I will leave. I realize I am only one person and I don't make even the smallest difference. However, it makes me sick to my stomach that the party of Ronald and Nancy Reagan would nominate a chronic cheater (the Republican version of Bill Clinton) and a First Lady that is known for sleeping with married men. Between Obama and any other GOP candidate, I will vote for the GOP. Between Newt and Obama, I'll pray for a Republican Congress, and deal with Obama for 4 more years (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little).
Newt Gingrich has lived his life off of the taxpayer. $1.6 million from Freddie Mac? Where do you think that money came from?
What the GOP needs is to nominate a former member of Congress with delusions of grandeur to go up against a sitting president. I mean, who's more popular in America than those from Congress! Well, maybe Freddie and Fannie, but he's got those covered, too. WAY better than Romney.
He's getting way too confidant. No matter that now u decided to talk about immigration.. obvious your trying to appease us hispanic/latinos votes. Not gonna happen! Hispanics for Obama! Yes we can!!
To Newt or not to Newt… You are dreaming of winning a crushing election? You think the President has nothing better to do than to waste his time with an old corrupt “has been”? To listen to all that nonsense from you again he works on to fix against all these "pledges"? He will run his campaign the way he wants, and will do it very nicely!
Newt's brilliant.....bring it on! People would pay to see him debate BO. We're done with amateur hour....let's get someone with the experience and knowledge to get our country back in the RIGHT direction.
"Not-Newt" is easy. Just pick the person who isn't the sleaziest politician on earth.
Republicans need to decide if all the talk about family values and honorable behavior was real or just a cover-up for a fearful bunch of greedy bigots. Is Newt the sort of person who actually represent the Republican Party? Sadly, I suspect he is...