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Mr. Gingrich’s aides and supporters are confident he will meet the filing deadlines of Dec. 14 in Alabama and Dec. 22 for Virginia.

Also upcoming are Dec. 9 deadlines for Louisiana and Michigan and on Dec. 15 for Texas.

The requirements for getting on the ballot in each state vary greatly. Ohio requires submitting signatures of between 50 and 150 Republicans in each of the state’s 16 congressional districts. Michigan requires 10,244 signatures, while Alabama requires just 500 signatures statewide or separate petitions signed by 50 voters from each of the state’s seven congressional districts.

The Gingrich campaign argued that the new proportional allocation of delegates in the GOP primary process could help him in the long run and keep the contest competitive until the spring and perhaps into the early summer.

But the last-minute nature of the effort stands in stark contrast to Mitt Romney’s well-oiled 50-state operation, which has been up and running for more than a year. Mr. Romney already had filed his Ohio signatures and has completed ballot-access requirements in Alabama, Vermont and Alaska well ahead of deadlines.

Mr. Romney’s aides say they have prepared for every contingency and plan to exceed signature requirements in each state by 30 percent to allow for mistakes.

“Since this is the first election after redistricting — a lot of times there’s new requirements after redistricting — you’ve got to spend a lot of time on the legal side, painstakingly putting together a list of state-by-state requirements with a lot of detail,” said Mr. Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson.

In Virginia, Mr. Beeson said, the best time to collect signatures — during the previous general and primary elections — has passed.

“It’s a lot different when you’re asking for signatures from Republican voters out doing their civic duty than hitting up people outside of Wal-Marts doing Christmas shopping,” he added.

The Romney campaign deployed two surrogates to criticize Mr. Gingrich when he downplayed the significance of Missouri’s primary.

“Speaker Gingrich’s claim that the Missouri primary is not important is disrespectful to Missouri voters, and it suggests a lack of campaign organization,” former Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, and state auditor Tom Schwiech said in a joint statement. “Governor Romney recognizes that Missouri is an important state, not only in the primary, but also in the general election.”

Mr. Romney’s organization also is likely to pay dividends in New Hampshire’s primary in early January, but the threatened longtime front-runner first must get through the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa, where a Washington Post/ABC News poll has him running 15 points behind Mr. Gingrich.

The Gingrich team says it’s more concerned about Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in Iowa.

“We take our hats off to him,” Mr. Hommand said. “We know we’re going to have to play catch-up to Ron Paul … and we don’t have much time left.”

Mr. Gingrich plans to try to capitalize on his growing popularity with a $1,000-a-head fundraiser in the District on Wednesday, the same day he will speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition.

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