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Obama adviser says Gingrich rise is 'for real'

Senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday paid notice to Newt Gingrich's rise in the GOP polls, saying that the former House Speaker's campaign was "for real."

"I have got tell you, I think a lot of people in -- inside the Beltway and outside the Beltway woke up today to a very different political environment and one in which Newt Gingrich is very much for real," said Gibbs on CBS's Face the Nation.

But Gibbs added that Gingrich would face a tough fight from his GOP rivals and questions about whether he could maintain his new frontrunner status. "And I think -- again, I think there's great skepticism," he said.

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Gingrich has soared to the top of numerous GOP national polls and this weekend two new polls found him leading Romney in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses and closing the gap on the former Massachusetts governor in New Hampshire.

Asked by CBS host Bob Schieffer if the Obama campaign expected Romney or Gingrich to win, Gibbs wouldn't answer.  

"I think each one of these candidates brings very different strengths," he said before proceeding to criticize Gingrich's record as House speaker.

"I think Newt Gingrich is, look, somebody who has been a party favorite of the Republican Party going back to the mid-90s when, you know, when he wanted to do certain things like have Medicare wither on the vine and provide tax cuts for the wealthy," said Gibbs.

Appearing alongside Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Gibbs dismissed claims that the president had sat on the sidelines and was responsible for the deficit supercommittee's failure.

"But understand what Barack Obama did for the super committee. He laid out a plan that would have easily restructured our long-term fiscal picture and gotten our debt under control. He got members of his own party to support that and he rallied the country around his plan and they supported it. That's what a president has to do," said Gibbs.

"But, Bob, the president can't fix any of the problems that people have in this country, or that Chairman Priebus outlined, without a Republican Party that actually wants to do it, he added.

The congressional supercommittee last month failed to reach its mandate of finding $1.2. trillion in cuts. 

Priebus said that regardless of who the GOP nominee would be in November 2012, the focus would be on President Obama's economic record. 

"This race is going to come down to is whether or not Barack Obama actually fulfilled the simple very few promises that he made, like cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Didn't do it. Get the debt under control. Didn't do it. Put people back to work. Didn't do it," said Priebus.