ATLANTA — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he expects to be a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Gingrich announced Thursday that he's exploring a run for president, launching a website to collect donations.
In an interview Friday night with Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity, Gingrich said "my expectation is that by the end of this exploratory process that we'll have an announcement and we'll be in the race."
He called the prospect "very daunting, but it's also very exciting."
Gingrich has filed paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service setting up a political organization – Newt Exploratory 2012 – that can accept contributions. He has not formed a formal exploratory committee – which would make him a legal candidate – with the Federal Election Commission.
"I think it's going to take a fair amount of time, at least a number of weeks, at least six or seven," Gingrich, 67, said of his decision. "This is such a big decision if you're serious about it."
Gingrich said he plans to again visit early-caucus state Iowa on Monday.
On Thursday, he ignored reporters' questions when he left the Georgia Capitol after appearing with Gov. Nathan Deal to announce the exploratory committee. But he didn't hesistate to discuss his views on Fox, days after the news network suspended his contract as an on-air contributor pending a presidential race decision.
"This is the first time in I think 10 years I've been here as a guest and not as an analyst because Fox News said, 'Got it. You're not here anymore,'" he joked.
Asked if a general election contest against President Barack Obama would be between two figures with sharply contrasting visions for transforming America, Gingrich said, "I think President Obama wants to change America into a different country." He then went on to say that Obama wants to redistribute wealth, and that he instead wants to create it.
He said the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts was responsible for the recent drop in the unemployment rate, and that he believes the Republican-controlled Congress should move now to make them permanent, including for high-earners.
Gingrich, who was elected in 1978 to Congress from Georgia just two years before Ronald Reagan was elected president, also made clear that he thinks tax cuts are the key to economic growth.
He said he would back "very dramatic tax cuts to create economic growth," which in turn would get people off of government social programs and paying more in taxes.
Gingrich also derided Obama's recent budget proposal as a "joke," and said the president should seek the advice of Democratic governors such as New York's Andrew Cuomo and California's Jerry Brown about reducing spending, because they have to.
As unrest in the Middle East sends gas prices higher, Gingrich said he would aggressively seek to develop domestic energy. "If something goes bad in the Middle East, we will understand the cost of left-wingers who oppose using American energy," he said.
Gingrich also continued his assault on the Obama administration's foreign policy.
"This was an administration which was very aggressive about an American ally, Mubarak in Egypt, and very confused about an American opponent, Gadhafi in Libya. This is an administration which doesn't notice the demonstrations and the brutality in Tehran, and it confuses Israelis building apartments with Iranians building nuclear weapons. And I think it's very, very dangerous."
(This version CORRECTS that Gingrich was first elected to Congress in 1978, not 1977.)