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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday he's seriously considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination and will announce his decision early next year.
Gingrich, 67, told The Associated Press that he would focus on helping Republican candidates through the midterm elections in November, then decide in February or March whether to seek the GOP nomination.
"I've never been this serious," Gingrich said.
"It's fair to say that by February the groundwork will have been laid to consider seriously whether or not to run," he said.
Gingrich, in Des Moines for a fundraiser and workshop for local Republican candidates, predicted President Barack Obama would be a one-term president. Obama's poll numbers have dropped below 50 percent, and Gingrich predicted they would continue to fall, making him vulnerable in 2012.
Unlike President Bill Clinton, who rebounded from first-term problems by pushing for welfare reform and budget balancing changes that pleased moderate voters, Gingrich argued that Obama shows no inclination to move toward the center.
"He's not like Bill Clinton," Gingrich said. "Bill Clinton was an Arkansas, Southern Baptist, sort of understood middle American. While he had some Yale overtones being liberal, the truth is Bill Clinton was quite happy to move to the right."
Gingrich has been mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate along with other Republicans, including former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Gingrich had a long congressional career and was House speaker from 1995 to 1999. He was given much of the credit for the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. But he abruptly resigned from Congress in 1998 after his party faired poorly in midterm elections. He also was reprimanded by the House ethics panel for using tax-exempt funding to advance his political goals.