"Romney's the front-runner in fundraising, Palin is the front-runner in celebrity status and Huckabee is the front-runner in polling data," he told the paper. "All three of them should feel pretty good about where they're positioned right now." 

Gingrich called Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) a "very close personal friend," noting the two worked together in Congress in the late '90s to pass a balanced budget. 

A slew of rumored 2012 hopefuls have made trips to the key battleground state over the past year, including Romney, Huckabee, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.  

Speaking to reporters Thursday, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said his message to the party's nominee in 2012 is: It's all about Ohio.   

"It's hard to see Obama getting reelected or a Republican winning election without winning Ohio," Gillespie said. "I would start there if I were advising our nominee."