Newt Gingrich Takes Official Step Toward Presidential Run

March 1, 2011 6:37 a.m.

Newt Gingrich is now just one official announcement away from running for president next year. The quadrennial might-run candidate will soon launch an exploratory committee to suss out the potential for a full-scale bid in 2012.

ABC News first reported Gingrich’s plans Tuesday morning, reporting that the former House Speaker will announce his committee “before the end of the week.” National Journal confirmed the report today. The magazine reports Gingrich will make stops in Iowa and New Hampshire in the next couple weeks.Gingrich’s exploratory committee will make him the second Republican officially thinking of officially seeking the White House behind former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who formed his own exploratory committee back in January.

To put it mildly, Cain is not expected to be a serious contender for the Republican nomination. Should Gingrich make the jump into a full-scale run of his own, it’s not entirely clear where he’d stand among the top candidates vying for the chance to take on President Obama. A Gallup poll from last week showed Gingrich with 9% support among Republicans nationally.

An Iowa poll from January showed Gingrich with 12% support among potential Republican caucusers there, and a poll from early February showed Gingrich drawing 6% of the vote in a hypothetical Republican primary in New Hampshire.

As ABC News reports, Team Gingrich says they can boost those numbers by reminding voters about Gingrich’s time leading the last Republican revolution on Capitol Hill:

His advisors say a Gingrich campaign would tout his accomplishments as Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999 — most importantly under his speakership the budget wasn’t just balanced but generated more than $400 billion in surpluses. Advisors say this sets him apart from the field. He won’t just talk about the federal debt, but can take credit as the only candidate with a record of dealing with it effectively.

Gingrich has also spent much of the last year creating a conservative tea party identity for himself, suggesting a legal ban on sharia law in the U.S. and praising the tea party as the “militant wing” of the GOP.

At CPAC last month, Gingrich helped lead the charge in defending Ronald Reagan’s legacy from what he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said were Democratic usurpers.

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