ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:
Is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich already pursuing an underdog strategy for the 2012 presidential race?
In an appearance on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday, Gingrich said he was most likely in fourth place in the current — and still hypothetical — field of Republican candidates.
“I think the front-runners right now are clearly Governor Palin and Governor Romney and Governor Huckabee,” Gingrich said. “I mean, if you just look at the polling numbers, all three of those.”
One of the show’s co-hosts, Whoopi Goldberg, pressed him, “What about you?”
“I’m probably fourth,” Gingrich responded, “but they’re the front runners.”
In his appearance Gingrich also weighed in on Palin's chances, saying "she's as much presidential material as Biden is." But he also called former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's recent statement that Palin would be a better president than Barack Obama "shocking."
"I think that's a very interesting opinion on his part," Gingrich said.
The former House speaker’s observation about his standing among other potential 2012 candidates tracks closely with a CNN/Opinion Research Corp survey released last week that showed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the lead, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with Gingrich rounding out the top four.
Twenty-one percent of Republicans in the poll said they would support Huckabee, 20 percent said they’d back Romney, Palin pulled in 14 percent and Gingrich got 12 percent. Other candidates whose names have been thrown into the 2012 mix, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, all ended up in the low single digits.
Lowering expectations is an age-old political tactic and Gingrich is an adept practitioner. But with his busy travel schedule, his 2010 campaign endorsements, fundraising for his 527 group and the array of projects he is spearheading through his organization, American Solutions, Gingrich has been carefully laying the groundwork for a presidential bid.
This week he is touring the country to promote his new book, “Valley Forge,” a historical novel about George Washington and the Continental Army during the brutal winter of 1777. Before the month is over that tour will take him to several key battleground states, including Florida, Ohio and Virginia as well as Iowa, a key early caucus state where Gingrich is making three separate stops.
Watch Gingrich's appearance on "The View":