Newt Gingrich took one step closer to launching a White House bid Thursday, unveiling a website that will explore the viability of his candidacy, but stopping short of forming an official exploratory committee.
During a news conference in Atlanta, Gingrich said he and his wife Callista were "very seriously" considering a presidential run and the site, NewtExplore2012.com
, will help "methodically lay out the framework of what we do next."
Gingrich is waiting to formally begin an exploratory committee because doing so would require disentangling himself from certain business interests, a time-consuming process, his aides told The Los Angeles Times
But the former House speaker has created a fundraising committee to pay for necessities like polling, staff and travel, according to Politico
The new website features a photo of a smiling Gingrich and his wife and offers supporters an opportunity to donate and submit contact information.
Thursday's announcement comes after a week of conflicting reports about Gingrich's intentions. There was speculation he would announce his intent to form a presidential exploratory committee, and other reports that he would actually announce formation of such a committee.
Word of Gingrich's possible announcement prompted Fox News to suspend him
as a regular contributor on Wednesday at least until May 1 as he considers his options.
What are Gingrich's chances among the potential Republican field so far? A Wall Street Journal/ NBC News poll released Thursday found him running third, with 13 percent, behind Mitt Romney (21 percent) and Mike Huckabee (25).