Another chance to make a first impression?

Fresh off a rousing debate performance that had the Republican audience giving a standing ovation — purportedly the first in a debate since Ronald Reagan in New Hampshire in 1980 — Newt Gingrich may be reconsidering how far he can go in the GOP campaign.

Holding a distant second place in several polls, Gingrich said Tuesday that he could stick it out past South Carolina if he performs well enough against front-runner Mitt Romney.

“If (Romney is) at 25 or 30 (percent), we’re still in a serious race,” Gingrich told CBS’ “This Morning.” “If he gets up to 40 or 45, you have to be realistic.”

The former speaker told Fox News on Tuesday he thinks debate prowess will be a “big factor” in Saturday’s election, as primary voters look for somebody who can defeat President Obama on the debate stage. The candidates have one more debate on Thursday before Election Day.

But the latest Fox News poll continued to show Mitt Romney faring best against Obama in a general election. Unless Gingrich or another candidate steps up in South Carolina, Romney is poised to go three-for-three in the first primaries of the season.

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