In opinion surveys of Republican voters, Gingrich ranks near the top among prospective candidates. But at this stage, poll numbers tend to reflect little more than name identification, not the chances of getting nominated or elected.
Frequent appearances on Fox News — he dashed out of the party event in Spartanburg for a live shot on Sean Hannity's program — have helped preserve his appeal to conservatives like Richard Marzec, who likes what Gingrich has to say and thinks he can win.
"We need to get the country working and stop putting people on the dole," said the 72-year-old retiree, who drove 90 minutes from his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to hear Gingrich. He did so despite Gingrich's support for the recently approved bipartisan tax deal, which Marzec opposed because it included an extension of jobless benefits.
The last time Gingrich talked about running for president — before opting out a few months before the 2008 primaries — he was candid enough to acknowledge that being seen as "potentially available" for a presidential campaign is a reliable way to get media attention.