Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to announce Thursday that he will begin raising money to test whether a bid for the Republican presidential nomination is feasible.

Spokesman Rick Tyler confirmed to Fox News that Gingrich is in the exploratory phase, which he will discuss at a news conference at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta.

Gingrich has long been rumored to be considering a run against President Obama. And on Wednesday, Fox News announced that it was suspending its contributor arrangement with Gingrich, yet another sign that the former House speaker will soon announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, which legally would make him a candidate.

Fox News' decision comes after some mixed messages from the Gingrich team regarding his trip to Atlanta Thursday, which was expected by many to be the next step toward a Gingrich campaign.

All signs point to Gingrich officially entering the 2012 race.

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Fox News has learned that members of Gingrich's inner circle are in the process of changing their e-mail address away from Gingrich's American Solutions group, a potential step toward the formation of a campaign organization.

The process of shifting from his current role as a author, pundit and activist to candidate is a complicated one for Gingrich. There are many political groups and businesses in Gingrich's orbit, sometimes referred to as 'Newt Inc.' He leads several organizations and companies, including American Solutions for Winning the Future, Gingrich Productions and Renewing American Leadership.

One potential hurdle to Gingrich's candidacy was cleared Wednesday when Fox News announced that Gingrich's contributor arrangement would be suspended for 60 days and then terminated on May 1 unless he notifies the network that he is not running for president.

But Gingrich's upcoming schedule suggests he will not be turning back. Most of the suspense for political watchers concerns when, not if, an announcement will come.

Gingrich will travel to Iowa on March 7 where he will address the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. The trip will be Gingrich's third this year to the Hawkeye State, home to the nation's first presidential caucuses, and his ninth visit since 2010.

Gingrich will also make an appearance in New Hampshire on March 17 when he attends Bernie Streeter's Wild Irish Breakfast. The annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Nashua is a major political event in the Granite State, which will hold the nation's first presidential primary.

The former speaker is considered a formidable potential candidate. Aside from leading the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, Gingrich is considered an intellectual force in the GOP and has already built an extensive network of potential donors.