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.
"Newt Gingrich is running for ***WHAT***???"
That's the best the republicans can offer up? The same tired old men that have proven to be abject failures for the last 20 years? Sheesh, they might as well try to run Reagan or Nixon again.
Ah, the Republican comedy tour is starting. Good!
Anything better than the Non-American we have now...
Conservative, elitist, has-been announces another losing presidential run.
Snowballs chance in hell of winning...he is not what we need.
Don't you know when 2 quit? Go home and sit in your rocker, ol' nutjob.
Mr. Gingrich had 84 ethics charges brought against him and was forced resign from the House. Now, incredibly, he has the audacity to think he is a candidate for president! Gingrich, Rove, Cheney, these are the guys who masterminded the dysfunctional polarized government that we are still having to deal with all these years later. Their failed political dogma spawned the likes of Boehner and Palin. Thanks Newt.
he can NEVER win, the repubs need new blood and new faces – not the old establishment ones – they don't get it and don't have the charisma to win. just like palin, bachmann, romney, huckabee, etal – get out of the way and find us a younger, more with-it capable person who might actually be able to win the election!!!!
What a tired, worn out, joke
RUN NEWT RUN!! He is a man of ideas! HE is the one most responsbile for the balanced budgets in the 90's, not Bill Clinton. A Republican House lead by Newt is the one that got it done. Clinton was just smart enough to sign his name to it and then take all the credit. Obama isn't anywhere near as smart as ol' Slick Willie! He's going to fight cuts and lose his office as a result.
Come on Newt, jump in and help the Democrats win !!!!!
I think he may have a chance if Charlie Sheen is his VP pick. They would compliment each other so well. Palin could be take Hillary Clintons job and Christine O'donnell could head the war department. We could all live at Disney Land.
What a waste of time. Newt, give it up. You will never be President.
OK, everyone knows that Newt isn't going to win, including newt himself. The whole point is to spread as much hate against Obama as possible so that someone else can have a chance to beat Obama. With people like buckwheat and bob to listen to them, maybe hate will win after all.
The only thing he should explore or have explored is a colonoscopy. We already know that even though he is smart he is a liar and a cheat and a first class loser!!!!
It will be fun to see who the GOP sacrificial lamb will be. So far, the only one with common sense regarding a race against Obama is John Thune.
cool and may the best gop hipocrit win
Enough of this prolonged public act of masturbation by Gingrinch. Declare so that the country can finally put an end to his Presidential delusions.
What Newt ought to do is form an exploratory committee of morals and responsibility for one's own actions.
Unfortunately he has about as much chance of winning as SP in this ridiculously liberal infested country that America has become. The disease of liberalism/socialism and its associated symptoms of dilapidation, apathy and corruption has already run its course through the host that was once the greatest country on Earth.
This message is for Gingrich and expecially for Chris Christie. Regarding your smug statement about raising the retirement age for social security. That is a very misleading statement. Anyone and everyone can and should check this out with the Social Security Adminstration. If you were born after 1945 your full retirement age is not 65. The age increases several months for each year. For people currently 63 years old they won't be eleigible until they are 66 after that it goes to 67 etc.
Now, it is true that you can draw partial retirement at age 62. That should be raised unless there is a health issue.
Newt *gangrene* exploratory committee has sent a memo to all reporters that the following questions will be off base if he enters the race : 1) No one in the reporter pool will ask about his multiple affairs or even hint that it did happen. 2) No reporter will ask him about having to step down from his speakership due to corruption allegations.. 3) No one will mention the word muslim around him. The reason is Newt gangrene goes mad when he hears the word *muslim, muslims, Islam. If you do mention these words his response will be "dirty muslim money". (Yeah he is crazy)..4).No reporter will ask what he(Newt) meant about a mosque in America when Saudi Arabia allows......Newt gangrene is not much into the laws of America, like freedom of..... ...In closing, if any reporter from any network ask these questions or questions like these type, Newt will banish you from his sight and go hide at his propaganda network.
Newt isn't that a type of lizard!!!
Republicans are on the attack ... Through their propaganda arm, Fox, they have been successful in vilifying all their political and ideology enemies (translation: anyone who doesn't believe corporations and the wealthy few should have absolute power over all of us). They've perfected their bully tactics, and will continue to bully our nation as long as we let them.
Now is the time to speak up loudly and often, pointing out the hypocrisy of people like Newt and revealing the truth about their true agenda to take our country down to third-world status, with religious police keeping everyone in line.
If you don't want this to happen to our nation, speak up, call them out, write your Senators, Representatives and the White House and call on them to stand up and fight back.
Most important, all you registered Dems out there and intelligent Independents, get out and vote in 2012 for those candidates who've shown that they care more about the American people than they do about their corporate masters.