WASHINGTON, March 1 (UPI) -- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich should announce this week his intentions to test the Republican waters for a presidential bid, friends said.
ABC News reported Tuesday people close to Gingrich, who co-authored the "Contract with America" manifesto that helped pace a Republican congressional takeover in 1994, will announce his intention to form a presidential exploratory committee before week's end.
Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said the former speaker would make an announcement on forming a presidential exploratory committee, but friends of Gingrich told ABC News he already made up his mind.
His advisers say Gingrich can boast of his accomplishments as House speaker 1995 to 1999, including balanced budgets, welfare reform and tax cuts.
But the Georgia Republican has baggage, too, both professional and personal. He was the subject of allegations of ethics violations and caught heat for the confrontation with President Bill Clinton that led to the government shutdown of 1995 and 1996. He's also been married three times and has admitted to having extramarital affairs.
Gingrich has been crisscrossing the country as he decides what to do, ABC News said. Last week he headlined the annual Lincoln Day dinner in Palm Beach County, Fla. He travels to Iowa next week to participate in a presidential candidate forum organized by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.