Gingrich to announce 2012 bid Wednesday

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) will announce his candidacy for president Wednesday, spokesman Rick Tyler said Monday. 

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After an Associated Press report that Gingrich would make a 2012 bid official via social media Wednesday, Tyler confirmed it on Twitter.

Tyler said Fox News host Sean Hannity will have the first interview with Gingrich as a declared presidential candidate ahead of the former House Speaker's speech to the Georgia GOP convention on Friday.

Back in March, Gingrich announced a testing-the-waters effort, which allowed him to start raising money for a potential presidential bid. But he declined to officially jump in the race, citing the need to untangle himself from a vast network of nonprofit groups.

The Georgia Republican has built an expansive grassroots and fundraising network since leaving Congress. Led by his American Solutions PAC, which donated to dozens of GOP candidates during the 2010 cycle, Gingrich boasts several other nonprofit groups, including American Solutions for Winning the Future and The Center for Health Transformation.  

Gingrich was widely expected to make his bid official sooner rather than later. Tyler said last week that Gingrich would be in the race ahead of his Friday appearance before Republicans in Georgia.

The former House Speaker has been a frequent traveler to the early states of Iowa and South Carolina, and sits in the middle of the pack in most early polling.

The latest USA Today/Gallup poll on the race for the GOP nomination found Gingrich running fourth.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and real estate mogul Donald Trump were tied at the top with 16 percent, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 13 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 10 percent. Gingrich was tied with Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), at 6 percent. 

Gingrich has been one of President Obama's harshest GOP critics on the campaign trail. Back in March, Gingrich said Obama is presiding over "the most passive and out-of-touch presidency in modern American history." 

While Gingrich enjoys sky-high name recognition with GOP voters, he also has some of the highest negatives among the current crop.

As Speaker, budget battles with former President Clinton led to a government shutdown, and the GOP majority at the time got the lion's share of the blame from voters as Gingrich's ratings plummeted.  

Many of the Gingrich's Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill are mixed about his prospects as a presidential candidate, describing his leadership style in the House as unfocused.

“It was frenetic,” said Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) of Gingrich’s leadership style.

“He’s a guy of 1,000 ideas, and the attention span of a 1-year-old. His discipline and his attention to any individual thing is not his strong suit,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Gingrich’s 2012 team is poised to run a campaign that will highlight his achievements, including the balanced budgets of the 1990s and welfare reform.

“If that’s what it will take to again get to a conservative agenda passed in the Congress, then please send as many 1-year-olds as possible, as soon as possible, to the Congress,” said Tyler. “We can lose the battle of personality, but we won the battle of policy.”


—Updated at 11:15 a.m.

Michael O'Brien contributed reporting.