Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won backing for a potential presidential bid from an unlikely place Sunday -- the former head of the Democratic Party

Howard Dean, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," would not go so far as to endorse Gingrich but said the Republican politician would provide a sorely needed "intellectual" voice in his party's top tier. 

"I don't agree with very much that Newt Gingrich wants to do, but the biggest difference is Newt has a ton of ideas to move the country forward -- he did when he was speaker. There are no ideas in the Republican Party right now in the Congress. They're the party of no," said Dean, a former presidential candidate himself. "They desperately need some intellectual leadership. Whatever you think of Newt Gingrich, he can supply intellectual leadership, so I hope he does run." 

The veiled compliment drew a smile from Gingrich, who noted that the line would probably be used against him by his opponents. "I'm not sure I can survive in the primary," he quipped. 

Gingrich said he and his family are "seriously looking at what would it take" to run for president in 2012. He said he's not feeling pressure to decide imminently. 

"I think that's a decision we'll make in February or March," he said.