Washington (CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is slated to speak at a high-profile Republican conference with 2012 implications, organizers announced Monday.
The Southern Republican Leadership Conference announced Monday morning that Gingrich will address the event, which takes place April 8-11 in New Orleans. The conference is a major gathering of Republican candidates, donors and activists from 14 Southern states.
The SRLC announced last week that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, another possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, would speak at the event. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, also considered a potential White House hopeful, will also speak at SRLC, a source close to Pawlenty confirms to CNN. A senior adviser to Mitt Romney, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate who may make another run in 2012, tells CNN that the former Massachusetts governor will not attend the conference.
Political watchers will be paying close attention to the SRLC conference, and not just because several potential presidential candidates are expected to attend. The SRLC - "the most prominent Republican event outside of a Republican National Convention," the organization boasts - also conducts a presidential straw poll.
The straw poll has had a mixed record of predicting future electoral success. George W. Bush, who was then governor of Texas, won the poll in 1998, two years before his presidential bid. But former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist took first place at the 2006 conference, which was held in his home state of Tennessee. Frist never mounted a presidential bid.
"Newt Gingrich's leadership and vision have been a critical part of Republican victories over the past 20 years and we're excited to have him at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference," said Charlie Davis, SRLC Director, in a statement released Monday. "Newt continues to have a profound effect on the direction of our nation."
Gingrich also recently filed government paperwork to form a political action committee, named American Solutions PAC, according to Federal Election Commission records. The forming of a political action committee will allow Gingrich to raise cash and donate the money to federal and state candidates across the country. It could also be a sign that Gingrich is serious about running for the White House in 2012.
American Solutions is also the name of Gringrich's political organization, which is incorporated as a 527 group, and is not subject to the same contribution limits as political action committees. Unlike PACs, 527s can also directly accept funds from corporations but are barred from directly contributing to a candidate or financing a potential White House bid.
Gingrich joins Palin, Pawlenty, Romney, and Mike Huckabee as possible GOP presidential hopefuls who have launched political action committees.
–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand and Peter Hamby contributed to this report
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