It's a Whole New Race: Gingrich Romps in SC

Come-from-behind victory jolts race heading into Florida
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2012 6:25 PM CST
Updated Jan 21, 2012 8:58 PM CST
Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, center right, campaigns in Laurens, S.C.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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(Newser) – Looks like it's a two-man race after all. Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary tonight in a wild upset over Mitt Romney, with outlets such as CNN, AP, Fox News, and MSNBC calling the race fairly quickly. Swayed by his two debate performances this week, core elements of South Carolina's Republican Party flocked to Gingrich: Tea Party backers, conservatives, and evangelicals. Incomplete returns show Gingrich leading Romney 40% to 27%. Rick Santorum (17%) and Ron Paul (13%) follow—both vowed to carry on—and Stephen Colbert proxy Herman Cain had 1%.

Gingrich's win upends the race heading into the Jan. 31 Florida primary, and his victory speech to supporters focused more on Barack Obama than his rivals. "President Obama is a president so weak he makes Jimmy Carter look strong." For Romney, his plan to appear on Fox News Sunday tomorrow—a rare sit-down interview for him—shows that damage control may have already begun, Politico notes. His concession speech may provide a peek at strategy: He criticized Gingrich for attacking his Bain record. "If Republican leaders want to join this president in demonizing success ... then they're not going to be fit to be our nominee." (Read more Newt Gingrich 2012 stories.)

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