WASHINGTON -- The 2012 campaign season has been full of surprises, with the latest being the political resurrection of Newt Gingrich.
The former GOP House Speaker's bravado is becoming a hit with Republican primary voters.
The secret to Gingrich's success may be that he doesn't aim for his opponents. Instead, he has set his sights on conservatives' favorite targets -- the president and the media.
"This is the richest country in the history of the world because corporations succeed in creating both profits and jobs. And it's sad that the news media doesn't report accurately how the economy works," he said during last week's GOP debate in Rochester, Mich.
Voters are discovering that his brain may not be just an encyclopedia but is also full of ideas they can support. His "21st Century Contract" lays out how he would repeal Obamacare, balance the budget, and includes executive orders he would sign as president.
"It seems like you're the realist up there, someone who is going to just say what needs to be said," CBN News' David Brody told the former House speaker during an interview.
"Well, maybe I'm a realistic idealist. Nobody in Washington would tell you what I'm describing is realistic," Gingrich responded.
"None of this is new. I participated with Reagan and I participated as speaker of the House. I've got a pretty good sense of how real this is and how this could be done," he added.
The Gingrich climb has been an impressive turnaround. In August, he averaged around 4 percent in the polls.
Three months later, that average is now at 13 percent. A new CNN poll puts Gingrich into second just behind Mitt Romney.
"Newt Gingrich is really positioning himself pretty well here as the guy that picks up if Herman Cain -- and the expectation is 'when' -- Herman Cain starts to falter," ABC News political director Amy Walter explained.
"Here he is standing there, standing there as, 'Remember, I was the guy who's always been there. I'm the person who brings all of this -- the experience, the knowledge, the know how," she said.
Whether Gingrich can edge out the better-funded Romney remains to be seen. But he's banking on voters seeing him as the candidate most able to intellectually and aggressively take on President Obama.
"One of the Republican weaknesses is that we rely too much on consultants and too much on talking points, and we don't rely enough on actually knowing things," Gingrich said.
"If you're going to lead the country and change history, you better know a heck of a lot before you start because there's not much time for learning on the job," he explained.
As Obama has proven -- youth and inexperience are interesting, but they can also be a disaster," he added.
The former speaker's next opportunity to make the most of what he knows comes this weekend at the Iowa Thanksgiving Family Forum where the field remains wide open and ready for harvest.