Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign got off to a self-admittedly “bad start,” which is more than a bit of an understatement. His candidacy has been dismissed since then — but two recent polls show improvement. He now plans to make a splash with his “21st Century Contract with America.”

Gingrich has consistently gotten some of the biggest applause lines in the presidential debates, and wisely positioned himself to gain by staying out of the combat as the others attacked each other. A recent CNN poll, taken after the the last debate, shows Gingrich in a solid third place at 10 percent with Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, and Ron Paul at 7 percent. (This was taken before Herman Cain’s rise in the polls following his straw poll win in Florida.) Michele Bachmann’s support collapsed to only 4 percent.

Former President Bill Clinton was asked by Newsmax to assess the field and if he thought it was down to a contest between Romney and Perry. The one candidate Clinton mentioned who could shake up the race was Gingrich. He also said: “Politics is not so static that it will be these two guys fighting it out all the way to the end, with nothing unpredictable happening.”

Gingrich’s new Contract, which he states is “10 times deeper and more comprehensive” than the 1994 proposal, may be what moves Gingrich to the top of the second-tier pack.

Gingrich’s website says that the Georgia primary is the “launch pad to victory,” his must-win state. He says he hopes to be in the top three in Iowa, will be in the top three in New Hampshire, and will win South Carolina and Florida. His website also says that “victory is vital” in South Carolina and Nevada, but that Georgia is his make-or-break state.

A recent poll out of Georgia shows Rick Perry in the lead at 24 percent, Herman Cain in second at 15 percent, Gingrich in third at 9 percent, and Bachmann with 8 percent. Cain won the state’s straw poll while Gingrich came in fourth, but 20 percent were undecided. Gingrich’s closest rivals are Bachmann and Cain, the former of which may be drop out if she loses Iowa.

Cain’s rise therefore comes at Gingrich’s expense. Cain is now seen as viable, giving him an edge over Gingrich and the other second- and third-tier candidates. Expect a big jump in the polls — but this jump can quickly disappear as he comes under the spotlight. Cain is extremely well-liked, but voters will now start asking themselves if he has the experience and substance to be president.

Standing next to Gingrich and other candidates, he could very well start looking more like an excellent vice presidential nominee instead of a commander in chief. The founder of Tea Party Nation endorsed Gingrich this month, making this very point: “Newt is electable. If you have seen the GOP debates, Gingrich has been the best debater … he looks presidential.” He also called him a “big idea man” with “the vision to fundamentally change the federal government.”