Newt Gingrich announced on Facebook and Twitter that he's throwing his hat into the ring to run for president in 2012.

"I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," he wrote on Facebook.

On his Twitter account, @NewtGingrich, he changed his bio to reflect the latest news.

"Husband, father, grandfather, citizen, small businessman, author, former Speaker, exploring a run for the presidency in 2012," it read.

A presidential run by Gingrich, 67, isn't a huge surprise because the GOP elder statesman has been raising money and visiting early primary states, but his online announcement reflects the influence of what have become mainstream social media platforms.

But Gingrich will need more than his 1,316,183 Twitter followers and 124,674 Facebook fans to become a major player for the Republican nomination.

A Real Clear Politics average of recent CNN, Quinnipiac, Fox News, Rasmussen, Gallup and McClatchey polls for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination found that Gingrich was averaging 6.8 percent behind Sarah Palin (10.3), Donald Trump (13.7), Mike Huckabee (16.0) and Mitt Romney (16.3).

He'll have a better chance if he can offer new ideas for the Republican party and primary voters. 

A speech this coming Friday to the Georgia Republican Party Convention in Macon, Ga., will be his first opportunity to unveil parts of his platform – though Gingrich has already shown that he has some unique ideas of his own.

During a Washington, D.C., two-day conference targeting moderate and conservative Latinos in December, Gingrich talked about how it behooves the United States to make sure that Latin America is financially, politically and socially stable.

Often singling out Mexico, Gingrich said: “For very practical reasons, I try to explain to Americans that Afghanistan is a long way away, Iraq is a long way away, Mexico is our immediate neighbor.”

“We have an enormous deep concern for the development, the prosperity, the rule of law in Mexico,” Gingrich said. “Mexico is central to the future of the United States.”

And Gingrich focused on the drug war in Mexico as well.

“To whatever degree there is a drug problem in Latin America, it is caused by American purchases,” he said. “There are no innocent purchases of illegal drugs. Every purchase of illegal drugs sponsors a criminal.”

He stressed that the drug-related violence in Mexico is more critical “to the future of the United States than the conflict in Afghanistan.”

Gingrich also chimed in on the Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chavez's of the world.

"The United States has consistently underpaid attention to Latin America," he said. "We'd be dramatically better off if we had a Latin America without a Castro or Chávez."

But if the former speaker hopes to make noise during the 2012 election, he will have to prove that the United States is better off with a Gingrich as president rather than a Huckabee, Romney and, of course, an Obama.

With reporting by Elizabeth Llorente.

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at or on Twitter @RealAdrianC.

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