It will take a "significant amount of work" for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to become a leading voice for women in the Republican Party, former House Speaker Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE (R-Ga.) said in an interview.

Gingrich named Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison are the GOP's emerging women leaders, snubbing Palin, who remains popular in the party's conservative base.

Gingrich told Christianity Today that the list of leading GOP women would have to start with Lingle and Hutchison.

"I would start, frankly, with Linda Lingle in Hawaii, who was a terrific governor who got re-elected in very difficult circumstances," Gingrich said. The former House Republican leader said Hutchison would "automatically" be a national figure if she succeeds in her bid to become governor of Texas.

The magazine, though, pressed Gingrich for leaving Palin off the list, despite her having run for the vice presidency last fall, and having continued to remain a focus of national media attention.

"She is probably the most successful figure in the party right now, and she's a formidable figure," Gingrich explains. "I think to go from there to becoming a national leader would take a significant amount of work."

"Sarah Palin has an obvious role if she wants it," he added. "The question for her has to be, are she and her family willing to go through another couple of years of the kind of media coverage that they currently get?"