Fox News has learned that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may bypass the exploratory committee phase of a presidential campaign and formally announce his candidacy in early May.

Under Federal Election Committee rules a candidate who wants to "test the waters" for the presidency may file paperwork with the government in order to legally raise and spend money on a POSSIBLE campaign.

It is not mandatory because candidates may simply "announce" their candidacy and file paper work as a full blown candidate.

Gingrich aides several weeks ago had intended to file for an exploratory committee but changed course and instead announced a web page for the purposes of exploring an exploratory committee. Insiders now say Gingrich may instead jump into the race in early May as a fully announced candidate.

Carl Cameron currently serves as Fox News Channel's (FNC) Washington-based chief political correspondent. He joined FNC in 1996 as a correspondent.