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Gingrich on rising poll numbers: 'This is a wild race'

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addressed his increased standing in the GOP primary field on the heels of a new poll Monday showing him trailing only Mitt Romney for the nomination.

A CNN/ORC poll released Monday found that 22 percent of Republicans named Gingrich as their top choice in a nominee, trailing the former Massachusetts governor at 24 percent. It's just the latest national poll to suggest Gingrich's stock has risen as Herman Cain and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaigns have stumbled recently.

"We're very close ... It's better than when I was at 4 [percent]," Gingrich said at GuideOne Insurance company. "Look, this is the most volatile race in my lifetime.  I don't know of any race like this, maybe if go back to 1940 when Wendell Wilke came out of nowhere at the very end.  But this is a wild race.  Who know what the polls are going to be two months from now?  I'm not going to tell you that I'm on the way.  The American people are really deeply concerned about our country.  They have a real sense that something has to happen, and I think they're going to keep pushing until they find somebody who can take the pressure and can withstand it."

Gingrich, riding high in the polls, addressed a variety of issues during a stop in the key caucus state, including the economy. Gingrich said his vacation early in the summer to Greece, a controversial break from the campaign trail that contributed a mass resignation of staff in June, was instructive for him given the Greek economy's debt crisis. Gingrich and his wife went on a cruise.

“An observation strategically about where we are ... was very much influenced when I visited Greece in June and talked to people what they were faced with in Greece. And I listened to them," he said.

He also spoke about the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a challenge to President Obama’s health care law.

“It's a good thing they took it up, and we'll see what happens.  My hope is they'll find it unconstitutional," he said.

During his speech, Gingrich explained to the crowd why he should be the Republican nominee for president.

“I don’t think there’s anybody else in the race -- I don’t mean this as an act of ego -- I don’t think there’s anybody else in the race with my background," he said. "I’ve been doing this for 53 years, I have a PhD in European history, I’ve written 24 books, made 7 documentary films, I really passionately believe in this country, my dad was a career soldier for 27 years and I can represent classic American exceptionalism in that kind of contest.”

Gingrich also criticized the congressional supercommittee, while also detailing his own plan to balance the budget.

“There are ways to solve this, I’ve lived through solving it. We’ve had four consecutive years of balanced budgets, we paid off $405 billion dollars, it is the only time in the lifetime of most of you that’s ever happened in Washington.”

Gingrich plan includes block granting welfare programs to the states, acquiring new revenue by opening up federal lands for oil and natural gas development, applying "Lean Six Sigma" concepts to government agencies, and detecting fraud in Medicare and Medicaid. He also proposed replacing or reforming the Congressional Budget Office.

The former Speaker also brought up the Keystone pipeline in order to warn the Chinese may attempt to take over that project.

“The president blocks the XL Keystone pipeline, which was going to bring oil and gas from Canada to Houston to American refineries to then be exported to China. Guess what the Canadian Prime Minister said in Hawaii this weekend? He’s now meeting with the Chinese Prime Minister to say, fine, if the Americans don’t want 20,000 jobs, they’ll build a pipeline from central Canada to Vancouver.”

Gingrich will be in Jefferson, Iowa later this afternoon.