01/28/2011 01:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Newt Gingrich Assesses His Potential 2012 Presidential Primary Competition

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich provided a candid assessment of some of the potential GOP presidential candidates that he could face in the 2012 primary cycle if he, as he is increasingly expected to, announces a run for the White House.

During an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, he appeared to give the upper hand to a trio of former governors: Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, Alaska's Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

"Romney's the front-runner in fundraising, Palin is the front-runner in celebrity status and Huckabee is the front-runner in polling data," he told the Dispatch. "All three of them should feel pretty good about where they're positioned right now."

Gingrich also clarified that he'd make "an announcement one way or the other in very early March."

The former speaker's comments come as he fits in a visit to Ohio in between other trips to the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

As The Hill reports, Gingrich's foray into the battleground state is probably not a coincidence:

Speaking to reporters Thursday, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said his message to the party's nominee in 2012 is: It's all about Ohio.

"It's hard to see Obama getting reelected or a Republican winning election without winning Ohio," Gillespie said. "I would start there if I were advising our nominee."

Earlier this month Gingrich told insiders that he was laying the groundwork for a run for president in 2012, and planned to make Georgia his homebase, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.