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article imageRepublican race wide open as Gingrich takes South Carolina Special

By Mike Lapointe     Jan 22, 2012 in Politics
Columbia - Republican candidate Newt Gingrich scored a decisive victory in the South Carolina Presidential primary last night. The Republican race for presidential nominee is now wide open as a clear front-runner has yet to emerge heading into the Florida contest.
Gingrich easily won the South Carolina vote by a 12 point margin according to the Washington Post, which “represented a swift and extraordinary turnaround in Gingrich’s fortunes.”
Gingrich finished with 41% of the vote. Mitt Romney, who won the New Hampshire primary earlier this month and had the momentum going into South Carolina at the beginning of the week, pulled in 27%.
Romney’s campaign to compete against President Barack Obama as the Republican presidential nominee seemed almost assured as recently as last Wednesday. But Gingrich surged past Romney in state polls, particularly over the last 48 hours following a series of extraordinary events in the race.
In a number of debates in South Carolina, Gingrich had strong showings and successfully defended himself against public claims by his ex-wife that he requested an ‘open marriage’. He also repeatedly attacked the news media for deflecting the campaign from ‘real issues’, a tactic that resonated with his supporters.
Gingrich was also helped by the announcement of Rick Perry’s endorsement following the Texas governor’s departure from the race earlier this week.
Finally, Romney’s momentum going into South Carolina suffered a major blow as a result of revelations from the Iowa Republican party that Rick Santorum, not Romney, actually won the Iowa caucus at the beginning of the month. The combination of these events helped push Gingrich over the top in early polls, and ensured an easy victory for the former speaker last night.
In terms of campaign organization and financing going into Florida’s crucial primary however, Romney’s campaign has no rival. According to Politico, “Romney starts out as the muscular favourite” and has “led all recent polling” in the Sunshine State. In addition, voters in Florida “have been able to vote by absentee ballot since well before Gingrich’s numbers spiked, likely giving an edge to Romney and his get-out-the-vote operation.”
Even Gingrich conceded that “we don’t have the kind of money at least one of the candidates has” in his victory speech in South Carolina last night, but quickly added that “we do have ideas and we do have people” according to Fox News.
Ron Paul on election night in Columbia  South Carolina
Ron Paul on election night in Columbia, South Carolina
Paul, who finished behind all other candidates in yesterday’s contest garnering 13% of the vote, reiterated to his enthusiastic supporters that his campaign would continue into Florida. In his speech in Columbia last night, he stated that “this is the beginning of a long hard drive.”
Paul thanked his supporters for the progress made so far, and reminded voters that “the message of liberty is being received by more people every single day.”
Consistently positioning himself as an alternative to mainstream Republican politics throughout the campaign, Paul’s commitment to drastically reducing government spending, bringing American troops home, and auditing the Federal Reserve was on full display. He stated that he’s “been in the business of promoting this cause in the electoral process for a long time and in the beginning I thought it would just be the promotion of a cause.”
“But it dawned on me that if you win elections and you win delegates, that is how you promote the cause. We will be going to the caucus states, and we will be promoting the idea of getting more delegates, because that is the name of the game.”
There have now been three separate winners in the first three Republican primary contests. As of Wednesday of last week, Romney was polling at 43% in Florida. Following Gingrich’s victory last night however, Romney’s strong support in the state is likely to change.
More about 2012 republican primaries, Newt gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron paul
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