Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said on Friday that his recent sharp rise in opinion polls as the first 2012 primary contests approach has been "almost disorienting."
At an appearance at Harvard University, Gingrich promised "extraordinarily radical proposals" if elected president, such as having inner city children work as janitors in their schools.
The former U.S. House Speaker, whose aspirations to win the Republican primary battle seemed almost dead in the summer after a series of well-publicized stumbles, is now a front-runner in some recent surveys.
Gingrich is rarely stumped for words but seemed taken aback that his bid had suddenly caught fire.
"I jumped by a factor of three in a month," Gingrich told reporters after a screening of his film "A City Upon a Hill". "I feel almost disoriented. This is a lot."
Gingrich's rise has been tied to strong performances in debates, struggles by candidates such as Texas Governor Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain, and conservative Republicans' wish to have an alternative to Mitt Romney.
A Fox News poll on Wednesday showed Gingrich with 23 percent support among Republican primary voters nationally, a statistical dead heat with Romney at 22 percent.
A bigger surprise was the survey of 746 likely New Hampshire Republican voters by Magellan Strategies, showing Gingrich just two points behind Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor and part-time New Hampshire resident has held leads of 20 percentage points or more in many surveys this year.
Gingrich, already under siege for the hefty consulting fees he received from troubled mortgage giant Freddie Mac, said he was ready for more questions.
"If I'm able to answer them in a way that the American people feel comfortable with, then I think that I'm a legitimate front-runner," he said.
"Who knows?" he said, when asked if all the skeletons in his closet were already out.
One of Gingrich's radical proposals was that inner city schools use students as janitors so that the kids can get work experience. Most schools should get rid of "unionized janitors," appoint one master janitor and and pay children to clean their schools, he said.
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