SC Shocker: Gingrich Wins Republican Primary

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COLUMBIA, SC -- When it comes to South Carolina politics, you can expect the unexpected. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., came from behind in the polls to win the Republican South Carolina Primary Saturday.

Gingrich appeared before a packed crowd of people chanting, "Newt can win! Newt can win!"

"The biggest thing I'd say from the campaign in South Carolina, it's very humbling and sobering to have so many people who so deeply want their country to get back on the right track," he told his supporters Saturday.

Despite the loss, Mitt Romney remains geared up for battle.

"We're now three contests in to a long primary season," Romney said during his concession speech after he congratulated Gingrich on his win.

He had some tough words for President Barack Obama and the Democrats.

"I firmly believe that this election is a battle for the soul of America," Romney said. "It's a choice between two very different destinies for America."

Back On Track

Shortly after the polls closed at 7 p.m., the race was called for Gingrich.

"I was in my car driving when the polls closed," Ed Waller, from Lexington, S.C., said, surprised that the race was called so early.

As an ardent support of Gingrich, Waller said that he was a little concerned that Gingrich might not pull it off.

"I grew up in the 80s and 90s and remember as a kid when Gingrich helped Republicans gain control on Congress. He was behind in the polls, but this was a good surprise," he added.

In an email to supporters, Gingrich acknowledged that many considered his campaign was dead on arrival.

"The political establishment in Washington and their allies in the liberal media have written our campaign off as dead -- not once, but twice!" the former House Speaker wrote.

Gingrich's win is a blow to Romney's campaign. Romney spent the week traveling across the state trying to reassure voters that he had the right conservative credentials.

He was ahead in the polls for most of the week; however, he began a slow and steady decline after his debate performance in Myrtle Beach on Monday and Charleston on Thursday.

Romney also spent the week fending off attacks about releasing his tax returns as well as his experience as a business leader.

The former Massachusetts governor declined to appear at a pro-life rally sponsored by Personhood USA.

Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry attended the event, speaking to the crowd about their beliefs on when life begins.

Ohioan Brian Mueller, who was at Gingrich's primary night party, said he was ecstatic about the results of the race. He is studying campaign management at Bliss Institute at the University of Akron.

"Mitt Romney doesn't excite me. Gingrich is passionate and he has a record of getting things done. He's quick on his feet. You've got to love his comeback," Mueller said.

The win give Gingrich a bit of momentum heading into Florida where the primary will be held on Jan. 31. Both Gingrich and Romney opened offices in the state earlier this week. Santorum plans to open an office on Sunday.

"We need to build on this victory as we go on to Florida," Gingrich said.

History might be on Gingrich's side. Since 1980, every Republican who has won the South Carolina primary has clinched the GOP nomination.

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CBN News
Robin Mazyck

Robin Mazyck

Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief

Robin Mazyck serves as Bureau Chief for CBN News' Washington, D.C., bureau. Robin has interviewed a number of prominent politicians and national figures for the network, including Mike Huckabee, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Steele, George Lopez and more.