Victory in South Carolina came swiftly for former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Saturday and has turned the tables on the election early on.
At the end of a long 11-day fight, with all precincts reporting, Gingrich came out ahead with just over 40 percent of the vote, Mitt Romney in second with 28 percent, Rick Santorum in third with 17 percent and Ron Paul bringing up the rear with 13 percent, according to The Associated Press.
With his strong 12-point lead in South Carolina, Gingrich made a much-needed comeback. Had ne not been so successful Saturday night, even he claimed his campaign would be over, accordnig to The Washington Post.
“We don’t have the kind of money that at least one of the candidates has,” Gingrich said in his victory speech Saturday night. “But we do have ideas, and we do have people.”
His strong lead in the Palmetto state wasn’t enough to discourage his fellow candidates, however. Romney congratulated the former Speaker on his “hard-fought” campaign and promised he would continue to put up a good fight.
“I’ll keep fighting for every single vote,” Romney said in a rally Saturday night. “I will compete in every single state.”
While a victory in South Carolina primary has resulted in presidential nominations in the past, the candidates who won had also either taken Iowa or New Hampshire, according to Fox News. This year, three candidates have each claimed victory of one of those states: Rick Santorum in Iowa, Romney in New Hampshire, and now Gingrich in South Carolina.
“Three states, three winners. What a great country,” Santorum said after the results were in.
Now the candidates move on to Florida where Romney currently holds a steady 18-point lead over Gingrich, according to Real Clear Politics. Despite being out-voted Saturday night, Romney remains convinced that it’s not over yet.
“Our president has divided the nation, engaged in class warfare and attacked the free-enterprise system that has made America the economic envy of the world,” Romney told The Washington Post. “We cannot defeat that president with a candidate who has joined in that very assault on free enterprise.”