Some Democrats believe that Gingrich, a hero of the conservative movement, would excite the party base more than a former liberal-state governor with a history of centrist views. And voters yearning for authenticity may be more open to the voluble and rumpled former House speaker, who frequently discusses his past mistakes and his recent conversion to Catholicism, than to a former ­equity-fund executive with perfect salt-and-pepper hair.

“He does not carry Wall Street baggage,” said one Democratic strategist working on the Obama reelection effort, speaking on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss his thinking. “He’s really smart. He’s definitely authentic.”

Perhaps most significantly, Gingrich has an extensive Hispanic outreach organization, which he has been building for years. Unlike anything in the Romney playbook, that network could give Gingrich a head start slicing into Obama’s base in key states in the Mountain West, where Hispanics are a fast-growing swing voting bloc. Polls show Hispanic voters, two-thirds of whom backed Obama in 2008, still favor the president — but GOP strategists believe that winning 40 percent of that vote could disrupt Obama’s electoral college strategy by putting Colorado, Arizona and Nevada in the Republican column.

Gingrich is distributing a weekly Spanish-language newsletter to Hispanic voters (the subject line is “Newt con nosotros,” or “Newt with us”), holding a monthly call with community leaders, even studying Spanish and using it in appearances on Univision, the Spanish-language network.