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Obama advisers believe "realistic chance" Gingrich could win GOP nomination

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a meeting with employees at Nationwide Insurance, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. AP

President Obama's advisers now believe that there is a "realistic chance" of Newt Gingrich winning the Republican presidential nomination. Democrats have long been convinced that Mitt Romney will be the nominee and they have expended considerable effort trying to label him as a serial flip-flopper.

Some of Mr. Obama's closest advisers are privately surprised by Gingrich's rise in the polls and are beginning to discuss Gingrich as a likely general election opponent.

"Given where Gingrich is in the polls this close to the primaries - and Romney's inability to connect with many Republican voters - yes, we think there is a realistic chance Gingrich will be the nominee," said one adviser.

Still, Democrats have not yet trained their fire on Gingrich. Nor are they scrambling to revamp their strategy for the 2012 campaign, according to two campaign advisers.

"That playbook has been written for years," said a senior strategist, referring to what he believes is plenty of Gingrich opposition research that is readily available with a simple Google search.

Full CBS News coverage: Newt Gingrich

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