With a decision on a 2012 presidential run coming as early as this week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) will head to Iowa next Monday to address a gathering of social conservatives.
The trip is as good an indication as any that Gingrich is set to officially move into exploratory mode.
Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler told The Ballot Box that the Republican will decide on an exploratory committee "one way or the other" within the week.
On March 7, Gingrich is set will join three other rumored 2012 hopefuls at an event hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. Also in attendance at next Monday's event will be former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and talk radio host Herman Cain, who is the only candidate thus far to officially announce his 2012 plans.
Should Gingrich formally launch an exploratory committee this week or early next, he would become the first high-profile Republican to officially get in the race. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Pawlenty are also widely expected to run, but neither has made it official.