Republicans may have their first candidate for the 2012 presidential race.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told Fox News anchor Sean Hannity Friday, "My expectation is by the end of this exploratory process, they will have an announcement and we'll be in the race."
Gingrich said the process is "very daunting, but it's also very exciting."
At a press conference in Atlanta Thursday, Gingrich announced the creation of an exploratory web site--NewtExplore2012.com--instead of the traditional exploratory committee. That move would legally establish Gingrich as an official candidate.
Gingrich said that creating a website has added benefits, including the ability to collect donations. "We want people anywhere who want to be part of this to let us know and to be engaged with it," he said.
Gingrich expects his final decision to come in six or seven weeks. "If you're serious about trying to not just run, but to both win the nomination and win the presidency, you really need to take some time to lay the groundwork, think it through, explore the possibility before you make the final decision," he said.
When asked about some of the differences between the Obama administration and what he can offer, Gingrich said, "I think President Obama wants to change America into a different country. ... He wants to redistribute wealth. I want to make sure everybody has a chance to create wealth. You know, if somebody hasn't created it, you can't redistribute it."
Gingrich has his eye on one major issue to start--the budget. As Speaker of the House from 1994 to 1998, Gingrich managed to balance the budget and believes that "a balanced budget is possible." He offered a two-pronged approach to make that possibility a reality.
"First is, you'd pass very dramatic tax cuts to create economic growth, because if you go from nine percent unemployment down to four, and five percent of the American people go back to work, they come off Medicaid, they come off food stamps, they come off unemployment, they start paying taxes because they have a job," he said.
"Second, quit spending. I mean, this new budget the president sent in is a joke."
The next stop for Gingrich will be in Iowa Monday where he will speak at a fundraiser for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. He will be joined by other potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates including former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Gingrich told Hannity, "I think the potential for a positive, solutions-oriented alternative to Obama, is very, very real. And that's where we're going to start outlining on Monday when I'm in Iowa."