CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — Newt and Callista Gingrich were standing on a street corner, an aide snapping pictures, as they waited for yet another campaign day to begin. A swarm of photographers gathered — a block away to capture the arrival of Michele Bachmann.

“The attention comes and goes,” Mr. Gingrich said, reciting rhythms of the Republican presidential race. “Sometime around October and November, it will settle down and be a race.”