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.
It should be a laughing matter that this REJECT from Georgia politics is a serious contender for Prez of the USA. Unfortunately, with the backing of Fox Propaganda Network, he is viable. If elected, I guess we deserve him.
Will the civilized world feel sorry for us or laugh at us??
Save your money, Gingrich. I can save you a ton you'll spend on an exploratory committee by just telling you as an
American voter, not no, . . .but Hell no.
This guy is the type person (some) in this morally corrupt country are trying to legitimize. He is a disgusting whore monger. Just the type role model the country needs
And when the good Christian patriots come out to support him it will show what their true moral character is all about.
I know they will justify him by saying everyone needs forgiveness. No that’s only if you are an old white racist whore monger who hates working class American.
Come on tea baggers this is your type of guy.
Hesssssssss baaaaaaaaak – I guess Ole Newt thinks there are so many nut case Republicans out there that people may not remember or care what a mess up he is. Let the games begin. already talking about President Obama and the two long years he has had to listen to the President. Trust me folks, it will not compare to the next two years we will be subjected to Newt
The current crop of Republican hopefuls is a sorry group of non-starters. This reminds me of when the Democrats couldn't muster up anyone worthy to run for President, that's how we ended up with Bush for two terms. Until the Republicans can dig up someone with more brains, charisma, talent and appeal than what they have now then President Obama will retake the White House in 2012. President Obama came of of virtual obscurity (for most US citizens) and ignited the voters. The Republicans need to find someone with the ability to do the same, someone moderate and not far right. With that being said though, I will be voting for Obama. I was a registered Republican for 30 years and almost always voted a straight ticket, but after the exclusion of moderate Republicans and the rise of the extreme right I left the party with sadness.
He's crazy, what a perfect fit for the Republicans.
Americans will not elect a quitter. Palin quit being Governor half-way into her term. Gingrich quit his job as a Congressman and Speaker of the House. Let's get someone who actually finished a term he or she was elected to serve.
And they say Kadhafi is delusional, Newt is living in never-never land if he thinks his past is so forgotten, the public won't remember what a scum-bag is really is. Who pumps these guys head's so full of fantasy they are convinced they are the chosen one? News flash, test the waters from coast to coast, not just his old girl friends.
Haha! As some of the posters note they will vote for him, so I am sure this is a GO!
Bring it on Newt & pick Palin as your running mate. Noe THAT is a button I would buy lol.
People complain about Obama but we are in such a mess no one could fix in in a few short years. And with what the rep's are doing right now I say they will be hard pressed to win anything next go-around.
But there are people that support the creationist museum in Kentucky, so I'm sure you'll have a bit of a following.
Some people believe anything.
Just keep teeing up these over the hill wannabe hypocrites and there won't be a Republican within two zip codes of the presidency.
His audacity is astronomically AWESOME!!
O boy. GOP is really grasping. What a buffoon this guy is. President Newt!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It's too funny. They've got nobody. HAHAHAHAHA.,
I tend to be more Libertarian than Republican and support Tea Party. Gingrich ... not a chance! Love Palin, but ... not a chance! Ron Paul... love him, but ...not electable! So I'm waiting to see who is going to come out of the woodwork. The country needs financial leadership at this point and we just don't have it. We will be in a major world of hurt if we can not cut the deficit. The powers of other countries will refuse to use the U.S. dollar for trade.
This Bush is president?????? what an idiotic America is...to print and to publish...
I am a Republican and I DO NOT LIKE Newt Gingrich. He is dishonest and a bit sleazy. I'll vote for somebody else.
To much uncontrol education is worst than medium when it come to dealing with the general public (government business) under our constitution form of government. If he become to be president if you thought we had problem in the past !BOY! you will not believe what our country would come to be. Said enough.
So begins the race for second at the 2012 Elections!
Get over yourself Newt. Nobody wants you.
LOL! Funniest story I've read today. What planet does he live on?
Please make this sickening adulterer the Republican Presidential Candidate. I want to see his face when he loses the primary.
He's a joke, and it's the same joke whose punchline is "Bill Clinton." Go home, Newt.
Wasn't this "man" suing his ex for alimony?
Wasn't this guy convicted in Texas for campaign finance fraud?
The Right better have a heck of wild card. These clowns projected to run will be shark bait for Obama.