msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/22/2011 3:04:37 AM ET 2011-01-22T08:04:37

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has told several prominent Republicans in his former state of Georgia that he intends to run for president in 2012, according to an online column Friday in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Gingrich told them that he plans to use Georgia as a base for his campaign and is looking for office space in Buckhead for a campaign headquarters, columnist Jim Galloway wrote in his Political Insider column.

However, Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Gingrich, told Galloway the former House speaker’s schedule for deciding on a 2012 presidential run had not changed.

"His plans are to decide on whether to create an exploratory committee in late February, and make a decision about his candidacy in March," Tyler said, according to the newspaper column.

Gingrich, 67, currently lives in Virginia but spent most of his adult life in Georgia. He was elected to the House in 1978 and served as House speaker from 1995 to 1999.

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Gingrich was the main architect of the 1994 Republican midterm congressional election victory and author of the "Contract with America" political manifesto.

But the Georgia Republican ended his 20-year congressional career after his leadership was marred by big losses in the 1998 elections.

Bachmann: 'Will America endure?'
Meanwhile, ultra-conservative Congresswoman Michele Bachmann brought her Tea Party message and possible 2012 presidential ambitions to Iowa Friday night.

Bachmann was the keynote speaker at a reception in Des Moines by Iowans for Tax Relief, joining prominent Iowa Republicans including Rep. Steve King.

The event came just weeks after Bachmann acknowledged she was considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination, a process that begins with the Iowa caucuses in February 2012.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Bachmann said she didn't want to focus on whether she would run for president, and her evening speech focused primarily on her message that massive debt is threatening the nation's very existence.

"This current crisis we're in is bigger than Democrats or Republicans," she told the anti-tax group. "Will America endure? Tonight I think the answer is in grave doubt."

Bachmann told the AP she came to Iowa to help focus the debate leading up to the next presidential election.

Chief among those issues is spending, she said.

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She argued that unless the U.S. dramatically reduces the size of government, it could face problems similar to Greece, where crushing debt has forced a bailout by other European countries.

Most economists have said such a situation is extremely unlikely in the U.S., although they agree the country's debt problem is serious.

"A lot of countries got together to help Greece. If that happened to the United States — the world's largest economy — I don't know who would be there for us," Bachmann said.

Other candidates heading to Iowa
Besides Bachmann, possible Republican candidates planning stops in Iowa in the next few weeks include Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Although other politicians have longer records than Bachmann, few get as much attention as the three-term congresswoman from a largely suburban Minnesota district.

Bachmann's outspoken style and strong statements have made her a frequent guest on cable television and radio talk shows, and she has been among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Tea Party movement, endearing her to those activists.

Bachmann has criticized Obama and Democrats for an economic stimulus package she called an "abject failure." She also made opposition to the health care law a major talking point as her star rose along with the tea party movement.

"If we want to kill Obamacare, we must do it in 2012," she said Friday night. "We must repeal President Obama in 2012."

Given there isn't a clear front-runner for the 2012 nomination, activists said Bachmann would have a legitimate chance in the caucuses should she opt to mount a campaign.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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