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Newt Gingrich Wins: South Carolina Primary Results 2012

First Posted: 01/21/2012 6:01 pm Updated: 02/26/2012 1:24 pm

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was projected the winner of South Carolina's primary election on Saturday by MSNBC.

Going into the contest, the presidential contender was riding a wave of momentum and surged ahead of rival candidate Mitt Romney in the polls.

"Thank you South Carolina!" Gingrich wrote on Twitter. "Help me deliver the knockout punch in Florida."

Romney was projected to finish in second place on Saturday night. Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum was projected to finish in third with U.S. Ron Paul in fourth.

Romney scored a win in New Hampshire's primary election earlier this month. After the initial results came in following the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus, the former Massachusetts governor was believed to have won the Hawkeye State event by 8 votes. More than two weeks later; however, the final certified tally showed Santorum finishing in first place.

Curtis Loftis, chair of Romney's South Carolina campaign, told ABC News, "We never thought it was going to be three and out" and added, "We always thought it was going to be a long haul."

Gingrich placed fourth in both New Hampshire and Iowa.

"Everybody in Washington and the establishment overvalues money undervalues people and ideas," Gingrich said on Fox Business Network on Saturday night. "The fact is we have a very real chance on an idea basis as conservatives to offer a better future for the American people. We have an ability to reach out to lots of people and communicate with them without millions of dollars of paid advertising. We are going to Florida with a set of big ideas."

Check out the live blog below for the latest developments out of South Carolina.

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In an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show Monday afternoon, Rick Santorum said he would not be investing much of his campaign money on advertising in Florida in the week leading up to the primary.

When asked by Hannity if he had a response to reports that he would not have enough funding to run a 50-state campaign, Santorum said he was focusing on "building out" his national strategy, but would not make ad spending in the Sunshine State a priority.

"Obviously a state like Florida, which is a huge huge state and very very expensive, is not one that we're going to be doing a lot of advertising in," he said. "We understand that this is one contest, it's not the end all, and these two debates coming up in Florida will probably mean more than all the advertising that's going to be run in the next week here."

Santorum, who reportedly spent around $1.5 million on advertising in South Carolina, is scheduled to campaign in Florida for the next few days, but as the Sun Sentinel reported, is "not sure" if he will stay in the state until the primary. The former senator is currently averaging around 11 percent in the Florida primary polls.

-- Mollie Reilly

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Newt Gingrich, who headed into the South Carolina primary facing allegations from his ex-wife that he wanted an “open marriage,” received congratulations on his win from the National Organization for Marriage, which organizes nationally to fight same-sex marriage.

The National Organization for Marriage "congratulates Newt Gingrich on his impressive come-from-behind victory in South Carolina." said the group’s president, Brian Brown. He also noted that Gingrich signed the group’s Marriage Pledge, which calls for investigating the organization's critics and passing a federal marriage amendment. Candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum also signed the pledge.

"It is now clear that the Republican Party will nominate a candidate who is strongly committed to preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman," Brown said. "We have succeeded in making the preservation of marriage a key issue in this race, and we will continue to do so throughout the primary season, and into the general election against President Obama."

-- Michelangelo Signorile

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Newt Gingrich upped his attacks on Mitt Romney's authenticity Sunday morning on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"You end up with a guy who is a very good salesman, who very much wants to sell, but has a very weak product," Gingrich said. "I think he's been dancing on eggs, trying ... to find a version of Romney that would work."

Read more here.

-- Luke Johnson

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Following a third-place finish in South Carolina, Rick Santorum denied that he felt any pressure to leave the race to allow GOP voters to coalesce around Newt Gingrich.

"Absolutely no pressure at all," he said on CNN. "I think people realize that Mitt Romney is now no longer the inevitable."

Read more here.

-- Luke Johnson

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Here is one indication as to how Saturday night's win by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina has changed the calculus for the Romney campaign.

Romney stated during CNN's debate on Thursday night:

This is not the time to be doubting people's words, or questioning their integrity.

Mike Allen of Politico's Playbook quoted a "top Romney source" on Sunday morning:

We are moving to insider vs. outsider. To pol/lobbyist vs. businessman. And character is going to be an issue, not a subtext.

The Romney campaign never actually thought that matters of integrity or character were off-limits -- certainly not as they pertained to Gingrich. But it also wasn't jumping to advertise that they would be part of its strategy prior to this past week's developments.

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Following a third-place finish in South Carolina, Rick Santorum attacked Newt Gingrich on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. He called Gingrich a "high-risk candidate," citing his past positions on immigration, global warming and health care.

He also seemed to marginalize Ron Paul -- who finished fourth last night -- as a candidate, saying twice that there were "three serious candidates" left and that it was a "three-person race."

-- Luke Johnson

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@ BetsyMTP : Gingrich reacts live to news Romney will release 2010 taxes this wk:"think that’s a very good thing he is doing & I commend him for it"

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@ GarrettNBCNews : Breaking: Romney tells FOX he will release 2010 tax returns and 2011 estimate on Tuesday. #decision2012

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Mitt Romney sent an email to supporters touting the "hard fight" in South Carolina:

This is a hard fight because there is so much worth fighting for.

Tomorrow we take our fight to Florida -- a state that knows too well the failures of President Obama.

A lot is at stake in Florida in 10 days. But we cannot stop there. The road to the White House this November will go through Florida.

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Taylors-Wade Hampton Patch's Andrew Moore captured this video of behind the scenes at the vote count in the Greenville County Elections Department:

Read more.

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@ PatrickRuffini : Gingrich appears to have raised at least $500,000 tonight

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With 99 percent of the results in from South Carolina, the GOP primary there saw more than 596,000 votes, eclipsing both 2008's 445,499 voters in the state's primary and 2000's 573,101.

Iowa's 2012 caucus and New Hampshire's 2012 primary also broke records for turnout, but largely due to the participation of independent voters.

-- Ariel Edwards-Levy

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HuffPost's Jason Linkins reports:

After initially staggering out of the gate, it looks as if Herman Cain -- standing in for comedian Stephen Colbert's exploratory committee for the presidency of the United States Of South Carolina -- is going to win the battle of "people on the ballot who are no longer actually running." With just shy of 95% of precincts reporting, Cain/Colbert have taken 5,937 votes, compared to the 2,336 earned by Perry and the 1,629 that have been claimed by "Others." That's good enough for one percent of the vote and, technically, a fifth-place finish. (At the moment, 69,346 votes separate Cain/Colbert from fourth-place finisher Ron Paul.)

Click here to read more.

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Not long after the final results of the South Carolina Republican primary were projected, each of the GOP presidential candidates delivered speeches to their supporters and the nation.

Click here to watch each candidates' speech.

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@ AriBerman : With 99 % reporting, nearly 600,000 voted in SC GOP primary, surpassing Dem & GOP turnout in '08

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@ mattklewis : Do endorsements matter? Nikki Haley...Manchester Union Leader...Evangelical leaders...The State.

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After placing third in the South Carolina primary, Rick Santorum sent an email to supporters on Saturday night stating that the race is "wide open," and that voters will not be impressed by Newt Gingrich putting his "ego on display":

Tonight’s vote is South Carolina made history. For the first time, three different candidates have won the first three contests of the Republican nomination contest.

It’s a clear signal from voters that this race is still wide open. And that’s why we must keep the pressure on.

...

The Romney campaign is now nervous. Just a few weeks ago they were talking about a “clean sweep” in the first three primary states. Now it looks like they are one for three -- just like our campaign and Newt’s.

That’s why the former frontrunner’s Boston-based consultants launched a series of misleading robocalls against me in South Carolina. I guess they think that’s the way to win elections.

I’ve got news for them. You can’t fool voters, and when you try, they turn on you. That’s why Romney’s campaign is on the ropes and, frankly, acting desperate.

Newt, on the other hand, thinks if he puts his ego on display, voters will like it. There’s no doubt Newt talks the talk. Problem is, when you look at his record, he doesn’t walk the walk. Leading Republicans have said nominating Newt would be “a disaster” for the Party. When I point that out, Newt starts attacking my “electability”. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Our campaign won’t stand for attacks like these. At the same time, we won’t sink to their level. I intend to continue pushing my positive, values-based campaign without taking cheap shots at my opponents. Voters who hear our message like what we have to say -- and I will continue to draw a sharp contrast between our vision for America and that of President Obama’s.

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HuffPost's Sam Stein reports:

A Republican primary process that seemed like it could very well end in South Carolina with Mitt Romney scoring three consecutive victories moved venues on Saturday night to Florida, as Romney became one of three candidates to have scored a win.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's win coupled with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's surprisingly weak showing amounted to a feverishly fast changing of fates. And it elevated the Sunshine State into a state of significance in a way that seemed implausible just one week ago.

Click here to read more.

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The Las Vegas Sun reports that President Obama won the Nevada Democratic Caucus today:

...Democrats had little reason to gather in high school gyms and lunchrooms across the state on Saturday to go through the motions of a process generally meant to select the party’s nominee.

They know their party’s nominee: President Barack Obama.

Still, more than 12,000 Democrats turned out statewide to cast votes for Obama.

As Bill Burton, a Sparks Democrat, put it: “Somebody’s got to do it.”

Click here to read more.

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@ jmartpolitico : So Cain/Colbert got over 6K votes

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Newt Gingrich sent an email message to supporters on Saturday night following his victory in the South Carolina primary:

Our victory in the South Carolina primary is a result of one thing: a national movement of conservative patriots who want to see bold solutions enacted to rebuild the America we love. The political establishment in Washington and their allies in the liberal media have written our campaign off as dead - not once, but twice! But here's something they couldn't account for: the American people know that we need a bold Reagan conservative to debate Obama, to draw stark contrasts with Obama, and to make sure we defeat Obama!

Over the last few days, we've seen conservatives in South Carolina - and across the country - unify behind our bold campaign of ideas. With support from great conservatives like Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Michael Reagan, 100 Tea Party leaders, and millions of proud Americans, it doesn't matter how despicable the attacks from the media get – together we will continue to persevere. This election is about fundamentally changing the direction of our nation and I am honored to represent the ideas of freedom and prosperity for the conservative movement.

...

As we look ahead to Florida and beyond, this campaign is going to continue to rely on millions of patriots from across the country rather than just a handful of wealthy donors and bundlers. If you want to see a bold Reagan conservative as the nominee, and if you want to watch us run circles around Barack Obama in the debates with bold conservative ideas, then please make a donation today as part of our two-day "knockout punch" money bomb!

Thank you for all your hard work to make our victory in South Carolina possible.

Sincerely,

Newt Gingrich

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@ daveweigel : Gingrich now up 14 statewide, winning every district, and thus all the delegates http://t.co/hGhrF0oh

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If Mitt Romney does manage to limp to the nomination sometime this spring or summer, the former Massachusetts governor may face an enthusiasm problem, if South Carolina exit polls are any indication.

Thirty-one percent of people who said they voted for Newt Gingrich said that if Romney ultimately takes the nomination, they would not support him in general election. The same was true of 40 percent of Ron Paul backers.

Among all voters, a full 12 percent said that come November, they will not be backing Romney.

Whether they stick by their pledge or not, the promise to stay home speaks to a lack of excitement for Romney, at best, and outright hostility toward him at worst. Even if voters do come out on election day merely to cast a ballot against President Obama, the lack of enthusiasm means few volunteers, fewer donors and fewer conversations with neighbors.

In South Carolina, at least, much of that standoffishness may have to do with religion, and particularly Romney's Mormon faith. An exit poll found that of the 60 percent of voters who cared a great deal about religion, 46 percent backed Gingrich and 19 went with Romney. For the rest of voters, Romney won, 39 to 32 percent.

-- Ryan Grim and Amanda Terkel

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@ jonward11 : Looks like Romney's immigration stance hurt his chances w/Jeb: "“I don’t agree with Mitt’s views on immigration." http://t.co/GeEAb8v7

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In a speech to supporters Saturday night, Ron Paul vowed to continue his presidential campaign even after his last-place finish in today's South Carolina primary, saying he would focus on winning delegates in caucus states.

"That's the name of the game," Paul said.

HuffPost's Sam Stein reported earlier this month that Paul's delegate-focused campaign strategy is actually rooted in Obama's 2008 campaign:

"Ours is a delegate strategy," said Benton. "We want to win the 1,100 delegates. If [former Massachusetts Gov.]Mitt Romney has secured 1,150 delegates, then it is game over. But we are going to contest that until the very end, and again we have a goal. We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think we can win 1,150 delegates."

Two contests in, things are going roughly according to plan, Benton said. There was some hope of scoring a victory in the Iowa caucuses as well as belief that New Hampshire's independent-minded voters would find Paul's candidacy alluring. Paul will get a handful of delegates from both states either way. He remains committed to a numerical-based operation premised on finding value where others don't. It's the Money Ball of campaign strategies and it's rooted in, of all places, Obama's 2008 campaign.

Click here to read more.

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Nate Silver of The New York Times notes that Intrade has Mitt Romney as a 60-40 favorite in the Florida primary, and talks about why Romney probably does have the edge:

The betting market Intrade, making inferences in the absence of polling, now gives Mr. Romney about a 60 percent chance of winning Florida and Mr. Gingrich a 40 percent chance.

That looks roughly correct to me. My guess is that if Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich are roughly tied in the Florida polls once we get fresh data, Mr. Romney would be the slight favorite to win the state because of his advantages in advertising dollars and early voting. And the bounce from winning a primary can sometimes fade over a matter of days.

Click here to read more.

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Summerville Patch's Lindsay Street reports from South Carolina:

All out-of-action candidates on the ballot received votes, likely from absentee voting. It may not be known how many voters were actually voting in favor of Colbert's "Corporations are People" slogan or how many were just having fun with their vote.

With 51 percent of precincts in the state reporting, Cain grabbed more than 3,000 votes. Perry scored a little more than 1,000 votes at the same reporting hour.

Read more.

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@ murphymike : Memo to GOP Star Chamber. RE: Not Losing the *(&#! House and Senate GOP Majority w/ Newt Disaster. TIme for a Secret Meeting.

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Click here to see a slideshow of the real winners and losers of the South Carolina primary, and vote for who you think came out on top.

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@ alexlundry : CNN dials remarkably flat for Newt's speech.

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Filed by Elyse Siegel  |