Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will launch a presidential "exploratory" campaign this week, becoming the first big-name GOP candidate to take a formal step toward a White House bid.
A senior Republican official confirmed the news, first reported by ABC, to National Journal. Gingrich already has planned two trips this month to states where the first presidential contests will take place next year: He's scheduled an appearance in Iowa on March 7 and one in New Hampshire on March. 17.
I spoke with a source close to Gingrich today, who confirmed to me that "a significant announcement" is coming on Thursday. "The full [exploratory committee] may not be in place by then," but "expect an announcement."
Now that this cat is entirely out of the bag for all intents and purposes, it will be interesting to see how other rumored candidates respond. Will Newt's de facto entry into the race open the floodgates as others follow suit, or will most other camps continue to keep their powder dry?