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.
This is going to be quite entertaining to watch...doesn't stand a chance. People don't forget the lack of morals. And to Bob (Anything better than the Non-American we have now...) you should seriously consider therapy...lots of it.
Regardless of anyone's personal opinion of Newt, there's a very fundamental reason why he can't win, and probably can't even get the nomination. He was a Congressman. He has never held a state-wide political office. Historically (at least in the last century), the only way to win the Presidency without being a sitting governor or U.S. senator is to have been a victorious general.
If Obama can win an election it is very possible that Newt can win.
His committee should explore his real reasons for running, like asking for his projections of how much this fake candidacy will reap in free publicity and book sales. Haven't we seen enough of this hypocrite adulterer who insisted on trying to bring a President for his and his parties selfish political reasons. We had patriots like this guy during the American Revolution- they were called Loyalists.
Launching a Presidential exploratory committee.....
sounds like big government to me.
oh and what about jobs????
His second step is to sleep with an intern on the committee.
Newt the scrotum throated blabber mouth who doesn't stand a chance. Go back Newt. Your time has come and passed. Your a backwards thinking thug who has nothing new to offer to America, unless your rich.
Save your bribe $$$ Newt. Listening to Fox people stroke your big fat ego all day long has given you a false reality. If this is the best Cons got and what is happening in WI will translate into another Obama term & Dems regaining control of both senate and House.
With this clown throwing his hat into the ring,we now see a clear picture of the make up of the republican candidates.And we must ask"is this what our great country has to offer"?..This pathetic showing really has thrust american politics into the right wing gutter of delusionary politics,hatered of the poor,the weak and foreigners.We will see a dumbing down of politics,where the ridiculous becomes the norm,where big bussiness and insurance companies profit from corrupt repub deals and policies.It will be a time when the poor,the middle class will perish under the weight of repub hatred.It will be a time of religious intolerance of anyone that doesnt carry a cross,it will be a sad dark time for my country.
The only thing he's been exploring lately is fantasyland....and maybe a little exploring of how far he can shove that giant forehead of his up his own butt while still maintaining a foot in his mouth. He can't win, so you have to start asking why he would bother in the first place and the only concolusion I can come up with is simlpy so he can keep his running mouth in the spotlight, stroke his massive unjustified ego and help the GOP control the narrative by manipulating the oh-so-eager-for-controversy "news" media. He's even been calling for Obama's impeachment over the past week....it's like the go to move for him when all else fails...which is an inevitabillity when your ideology is 100% entirely broken like his.
And our new idea is...um...well, it's the same old idea, but this time we promise it will be different.
I should have said non spousal fornication for all!!
Yes, the man who told the wife he was divorcing because he was cheating on her that it didn't matter what he did... only what he said in public. Add that to the government shutdown, and he is just the winningest candidate there is! Republicans have NO ONE to run in 2012. It would be nice if there was a sane, sensible conservative candidate... even if I would be unlikely to vote for him/her (okay.. we can skip the her part. These are the Republicans we are talking about). But they won't let anyone sane or sensible run as their base is getting smaller and smaller and more and more utterly bat shemp insane.
I want his FULL biography and qualifications listed. That will be so informative and entertaining.
It's amazing that he can't understand he will never be president. He has too much bad history with the American people and too many skeletons in his closet. He is blinded by his own ego. But keep going, Newt! You sure will be entertaining!
what a debate that would, someone who knows facts vs someone who reads a teleprompter to prevent a truth slip up. bring the debate on
Will he run on the strength of his family values? ;-)
Just like always, Newt's ego is writing checks that can't be cashed. What a hopeless, desperate and sad individual. You had your time in the sun Newt. You blew it and we, the voters, have a very, very long memory regarding your antics, both as a politician and as a person.
It would be great for America to get an experienced, intelligent, America loving patriot, like Gingrich as President ... instead of a radical, empty suit, like Barrack Obama !!!
Lol, Newt...really, is that all yall've got to come with on the right?? Lol, so its this guy and Palin so far...lmao!!! 2 years and no one wants to actually commit to stepping up to President Obama, is that.....I think its......why yes it is fear that I smell.lol.
Haven't heard from this hate-monger in a long time, assumed he'd crawled back under his rock.
I guess anybody is better than Palin!
Newt Gingrich save your money you have no chance In hell of winning. We want some one we can trust and that isn't you. You had 84 ethics charger brought Against you and forced to resign from the house. You were even unfaithful to your wife. America just don't need you or want you to run for President.
"Breaking: Gingrich taking first step to 2012"
Anyone is better than what we have now.