Before Newt Gingrich took to the podium in South Carolina on Saturday, television talking heads asked a pair of questions that hover over his campaign heading into next week's Florida primary:
Can he sustain the momentum? Can he handle success?
The former House Speaker, who represented East Cobb and lived in Indian Hills, is at his best when fighting and scrapping with sharp rhetoric, as he did in leading the Republicans to the Congressional majority in 1994.
Now he's in a very different position after getting 40 percent of the South Carolina GOP vote, beating former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 12 points and leading his rival in Florida, where voters go to the polls on Jan. 31.
On Monday, polling guru Nate Silver of The New York Times' Five Thirty Eight blog rounded up data showing how fast Gingrich had gained ground on Romney in Florida and was leading in some polls by as manay as 8 to 9 points. Other polling reveals a dead heat between the two.
(Tuesday afternoon, a Gallup poll also had Gingrich leading Romney in a nationwide poll.)
In Monday's Republican debate and in Tampa, Gingrich continued describing himself as a "Reaganesque" candidate to change Washington, an outsider who ironically not only was two steps away from the presidency as speaker, but who now lives nearby in northern Virginia.
Romney used the Monday debate to accuse Gingrich of lacking leadership and character for his House resignation in 1998, after he admitted to having an extramarital to affair.
Gingrich staved off the rehashing of past conflicts in South Carolina, but as Kennesaw Patch reported on Monday, Romney involving Gingrich over a course he taught at Kennesaw State University as he became Speaker that resulted in a $300,000 fine.
Gingrich figures to be the favorite in Georgia the March 6 "Super Tuesday" primary, and speculation has grown that a debate at the Cobb Energy Centre, close to Gingrich's former East Cobb stomping grounds.
While Florida and Georgia share a long border, the gulf in time between their two primaries leaves a wide berth for his current status to change.