Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was among the first candidates to officially jump into the race. The outspoken conservative, who is largely credited with orchestrating the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, is a prolific author, television personality and an often polarizing figure.
In the following slides, CBS News presents scenes from Gingrich's political career over the past two decades -- and his pursuit of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Gingrich meets with voters during a campaign stop with Asian-American leaders at the Korea Times, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Gingrich shakes hands during a campaign stop at the Great Basin Brewing Co. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, in Reno, Nev.
Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, visit a polling place at Celebration Heritage Hall in Celebration, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012.
Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shake hands at the Republican presidential candidates debate at the University of South Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.
Gingrich arrives with his wife Callista during a South Carolina Republican presidential primary night rally, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Columbia, S.C. Gingrich scored a come-from-behind victory over Mitt Romney in the nation's third nominating contest.
Gingrich takes part in a TV interview during a campaign event at the Grapevine Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, the unpredictable voting day of the South Carolina presidential primary.
Gingrich speaks to supporters during the opening of his Florida campaign headquarters, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. He is flanked by his state campaign co-chairmen former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, left, and former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, right. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Gingrich is surrounded by media outside the Webster School in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, where primary voting was taking place.
Republician presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry in the South Carolina Presidential Debate at Wofford College, sponsored by SCGOP, CBS News and the National Journal, on November 12, 2011 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Gingrich talks with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (C) and PBS Nightly Business Report Co-Anchor and Managing Editor Tom Hudson during a forum on manufacturing November 1, 2011 at Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella, Iowa.
Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich speaks to a gathering of conservative Christians at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum on October 22, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Gingrich speaks to delegates before a straw poll during a Florida Republican Party Presidency 5 Convention, Sept. 24, 2011, in Orlando, Fla.
Gingrich and his wife Callista are greeted by Chairman of the Ronald Reagan Foundation Fred Ryan (L) as they arrive on September 7, 2011, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, for the Republican Presidential Candidates debate.
Janna Que, 12, (C) holds her name tag for Gingrich to sign after a town-hall meeting one day before a GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on September 6, 2011 in Pasadena, California. Looking on are her sister Danielle, 8, (2ndL) and Lara Albano, 12. The trio sang a song during the event.
Gingrich and his wife Callista grill pork chops as they visited the Iowa Pork Producers tent during a campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011.
Gingrich speaks during an appearance at the Kiwanis Club luncheon at the Holiday Inn Five Flags on May 16, 2011 in Dubuque, Iowa. Gingrich kicked off his run for presidency with a campaign tour of Iowa telling voters that the Obama healthcare bill must be repealed.
Gingrich speaks at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC), on February 10, 2011 in Washington, DC.
During his remarks at CPAC earlier this month, Gingrich called for America to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with an "environmental solutions agency," arguing that the EPA is currently full of "self-selected bureaucrats who are anti-American jobs."
Newt Gingrich speaks during his 'Jobs Here, Jobs Now' tour in Las Vegas on October 21, 2010. The former Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke about bringing back jobs to American citizens and the 2010 midterm elections.
Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich greets guests at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum on October 22, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Gingrich smiles during a visit to the Capitol for the unveiling of his official portrait on November 15, 2000 in Washington, DC.
Gingrich speaks to reporters on January 16, 1997, the day before the House ethics committee began hearings regarding the former Speaker's alleged misconduct.
The House ethics committee determined that Gingrich had used tax-exempt money to promote
Republican goals, and had later attempted to misdirect the investigation surrounding his misconduct by providing false information about it. On Jan. 21, 1997, the House voted to reprimand Gingrich and fine him $300,000.
Former President Bill Clinton and Gingrich share a few words during introductions at the National Summit on Retirement Savings June 4, 1998 in Washington, D.C.
Gingrich introduces former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole at campaign event in Atlanta, Georgia on June 8, 1996.
Gingrich speaks as fellow Republicans look on during a rally on Capitol Hill on tax day (April 15) in 1997.
Former first lady Hillary Clinton toasts Gingrich during the inaugural luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 1997.
Gingrich and and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole pose with an elephant outside the Capitol building in Washington on April 5, 1995.
Gingrich poses for photographers with a model of a tyrannosaurus rex skull on May 12, 1995, during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
Gingrich and Bob Dole discuss the Medicare program during a press conference in Washington on May 2, 1995. Republicans and the Clinton administration sparred frequently about the program throughout Clinton's presidency.
Gingrich holds up a copy of his 'Contract With America' during a speech on April 7, 1995. Gingrich's highly-publicized 'Contract with America' outlined specific actions Republicans promised to take if they won the House of Representatives in 1994.
Upon being sworn as Speaker of the House on Jan. 4, 1995, Gingrich accepts the Speaker's gavel from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt during the first session of the 104th Congress. At the time, Gingrich's election marked the first time in 40 years a Republican had held the position.