Washington (CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will announce Thursday that he is launching a committee to explore a run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, a Republican familiar with the plans told CNN.
Gingrich's decision to form an exploratory committee and officially "test the waters" makes him the first major Republican contender to enter the presidential race.
Thanks to a national profile from his days as House Speaker and a reputation for delivering headline-grabbing broadsides against Democrats, Gingrich is among four Republican contenders who regularly finish atop national polls that survey Republicans about their choice for the GOP nomination in 2012.
In CNN's most recent national poll, Gingrich polled at 10 percent, landing him in fourth place behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Gingrich, who served in Congress for 20 years until his retirement in 1999 after four as House Speaker, has made noise about running for president in the past. But his activities in recent years have marked him as a more serious prospect in 2012.
His policy group American Solutions, a 527 group that can solicit unlimited corporate and individual contributions unlike the political action committees favored by the rest of the potential 2012 candidates, took in more than $14 million in 2010.
Much of that total financed Gingrich's robust travel schedule as well as the group's political activities, including a nationwide series of training sessions for conservative activists during the 2010 midterm cycle.
Gingrich has made repeated visits to the early caucus and primary states that play an outsized role in determining the nominee, particularly Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucuses, and South Carolina.
Will Rogers, the former chairman of the Des Moines-area Polk County Republican Party, told CNN that Gingrich is certain to run "a high level campaign operation here" if he decides to move beyond the exploratory phase.
"My feeling is that he looks like he is somebody who is going to run," said Rogers, who has known Gingrich for six years and plans to work for him if he embarks on a full-fledged candidacy. "He is doing the things that people need to do in order to become a frontrunner in the state of Iowa."
When he makes the formal announcement on Thursday, Gingrich will become the second prominent Republican to form an exploratory committee after former radio host Herman Cain, a popular figure among grassroots conservatives and Tea Party activists.
The Federal Election Commission lists several guidelines, some of them vague, for the presidential exploratory phase. But according to the FEC, when a potential candidate's exploratory committee raises or spends more than $5,000, he or she is no longer "testing the waters" and must register as a candidate.
Gingrich is a currently under contract with Fox News as a political analyst. CNN reached out to Fox News seeking comment about whether Gingrich will still be employed while exploring a 2012 bid, but a spokesperson for Fox News has not yet responded.
UPDATE: Gingrich will make the announcement in Atlanta, where he is slated to meet with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
Hey Newt-save your money...you can't win. HYPOCRITE
This just in: The exploratory committee has made their first recommendation to Gengrich. They advised that he get a new personality before any further strategic planning.
Just only announcing the committee and not his candidancy!!! It seems all GOP contenders to be, are scared to death.
With what we're seeing from Republicans right now, it's Gingrich, Palin, Huckabee, or Romney in the White House when pigs fly.
Good God am I glad I'm in the process of obtaining permanent residency in Australia.
So, Gingrich has decided to continue his fleecing of Americans foolish enough to contribute to his nonexistent *campaign* fund. This is one sick man, who at his age, ought to know better . . . greedy to a fault, and nothing to redeem himself with.
I hope he winds up as the VP candidate with Mitch Daniels at the top of the ticket.
Please stay out of the 2012 Presidential flurry Newt. If you had it in you to do the right thing for our county you would've had more success the first time around when you were in Congress. Give it up already.
Good luck, Newt. If nothing else, this should be entertaining.
Why?...lol. How much more delusional can he be? The U.S. needs the whole package in a president. Family man, tall, atheletic, intelligent, articulate, good looking, great decision maker and oh yeah.....all of the above which he none of. Yeah Newt, go right ahead.
Explore no further Mr. Gingrich, you are a man, who could not stay faithful to your own wife ~ what makes you think anyone would even consider voting for you!
he think that we have forgotten all the dirty thing he done. He hate the prez so much that he is fooling his self that he can win. so I say run newtie once obama win maybe you will have a heart attack from the stress of geting that old stinkin wrinkle azz beat by a black man.
The GOP ALLEY CAT is neutered by age so his penchant for Females other than the one he is married to probably would not go to the OVAL OFFICE [Neither will Newt] He probably would need a partner to run with. Santorum seems to fit the opportunity.
Newt, however much money this committee is going to cost you, I can save you that amount right now: As the public face of the failed "Contract with America", you are simply too polarizing. As such, you are unelectable at the national level. You remain a potentially viable running mate for a moderate Republican (if there are any left), but as a presidential candidate, you are your own albatross.
Don't waste your time or our time Newt....
seriously????? Newt come on, you know you will not win.
Great...I hope Palin get's into the mix too (although even someone as dumb as she is might catch on that she's doesn't stand a chance)
GingRICH is one of the slimest people walknig the earth...he's scary...he actually believes all the crap he spews..
Right, Mr. Gingrich, he of the 'family values' tradition on the republican side, he the one who served divorce papers to his cancer stricken (2nd, 3rd ?) wife....
Oh please run for office, please do.
Presidential exploratory committee? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! So funny! Newt, seriously, don't do it. You don't stand a chance in that proverbial hell the Bible talks about.
What politician does not have baggage? His baggage is old and I for one think he would do an excellent job. If he ends up being the Republican choice, I would vote for him. I would rather see Paul Ryan or Chris Christy.
not going to happen....
Wow! The GOP has really gone over the edge, haven't they. Does anyone remember him wanting to bring back orphanages & put the children of welfare moms in them – whether they were good moms or not? Let's just take out another "Contract on Americans" now.
Anyone but failin palin.
Oh good, the family values candidate enters the race.
Newt can beat Obama. BHO has been an embarrasment for the U.S.