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Crowley: Super Tuesday looms larger for Gingrich than anyone else

By Candy Crowley, CNN Chief Political Correspondent
updated 10:29 AM EST, Mon March 5, 2012
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

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(CNN) -- 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."

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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.

"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.

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