Crowley: Super Tuesday looms larger for Gingrich than anyone else

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Story highlights

  • Newt Gingrich hit four of the five Sunday talk shows ahead of Super Tuesday
  • Former House speaker hasn't won since South Carolina in January
  • Gingrich is expected to win home state of Georgia but needs more than that

What does it say when a politician is willing to get up early to do four of the five national Sunday talk shows?

It means that Super Tuesday is near, and Newt Gingrich is running out of time and space to get his juice back.

The former speaker of the U.S. House hasn't won a state since South Carolina on January 21, pretty much ceding the headlines to Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum. He pins his hope for a return to marquee status on two things: a big win in Georgia and big increases in prices at the gas pump.

"I keep coming back," he said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I have twice been the front-runner in the national polls and with the gasoline, and I think we're coming back for a third time."

Georgia as a campaign mile marker was Gingrich's idea. It's where the former congressman began his political career. It's where he would like to revive it.

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"I have to win Georgia, I think, to be credible in the race," he told Georgia business leaders last week.

He is likely to win big in Georgia. The good news for Gingrich is that no one else really made much of an effort there. The bad news is that means Georgia won't be enough.

    He knows that.

    "We're competing in Tennessee, in Ohio, in Oklahoma, in a number of other states. We'll pick up delegates in a number of places," he said on ABC's "This Week." "Then I think the following week, we're going to win in Alabama and Mississippi, and we're going to be very competitive in Kansas."

    There are a lot of ifs, ands and hopes in the strategy. For starters, he can't be an all-Southern candidate. But Gingrich believes he's got the talk to back up a long walk to the Tampa, Florida, convention.

    He has glommed onto gas prices as the lead item in a razor-sharp repertoire that channels the anger and the angst of voters who were drawn early on.

    "The price of gasoline is becoming a genuine crisis for many American families. If it continues to go higher, it will crater the economy by August because people will have no discretionary income," he told me on CNN's "State of the Union." "And as a result, the president's going to go into the fall with very expensive gasoline, a weakening economy, a disastrously bad policy in the Middle East and a trillion-dollar deficit. I think that's a pretty big burden while he's waging war on the Catholic Church and apologizing to Islamic extremists."

    Super Tuesday might not do much to change the Santorum-Romney dynamic. Either could probably sustain a mediocre night.

    And Ron Paul doesn't need a splashy win to keep his libertarian movement alive.

    "They keep asking about winning particular states in this campaign, but guess what? We're still winning a lot of delegates, and that's what counts," he told the movement at a rally in Springfield, Virginia.

    But Gingrich needs a win and then some on Tuesday to keep from dropping out of the storyline altogether.

    "I think I'm beginning to come back to my real job, which is to be sort of the visionary conservative who offers bigger, better solutions for the future. That's what I do best. And twice that's put me in the lead nationally, and now I have got to convert that into delegates," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

    In the end, Super Tuesday looms larger for Gingrich than for anyone else.

        Election 2012

      • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

        A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
      • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

        The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
      • Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
      • US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

        The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
      • Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.