Gingrich storms to victory in S.C. primary

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 7:27 PM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 4:48 AM
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COLUMBIA — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stormed to an upset win in the South Carolina primary Saturday night, dealing a sharp setback to former front-runner Mitt Romney and scrambling the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

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Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich takes part in a TV interview during a campaign event at the Grapevine Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C. Gingrich stormed to an upset win in the South Carolina primary, dealing a sharp setback to Mitt Romney.  MATT ROURKE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MATT ROURKE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich takes part in a TV interview during a campaign event at the Grapevine Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C. Gingrich stormed to an upset win in the South Carolina primary, dealing a sharp setback to Mitt Romney.
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“Thank you, South Carolina!” Gingrich swiftly tweeted to his supporters. He appealed for a flood of donations for the next-up Jan. 31 primary. “Help me deliver the knockout punch in Florida. Join our Moneybomb and donate now,” said his tweet.

Already, Romney and a group that supports him were on the air in Florida with a significant television ad campaign, more than $7 million combined to date. Aides to the former Massachusetts governor had once dared hope that Florida would seal his nomination – if South Carolina didn’t first – but that strategy appeared to vanish along with the once-formidable lead he held in pre-primary polls.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul trailed badly in the South Carolina voting.

Exit polling showed Gingrich, the former House speaker, leading by a wide margin among the state’s heavy population of conservatives, tea party supporters and born-again Christians.

For the first time all year, Romney trailed among voters who said they cared most about picking a candidate who could defeat President Barack Obama this fall. Gingrich was ahead of the field for those voters’ support.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, swept into South Carolina 11 days ago as the favorite after being pronounced the winner of the lead-off Iowa caucuses, then cruising to victory in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

But in the sometimes-surreal week that followed, he was stripped of his Iowa triumph – GOP officials there now say Santorum narrowly won – while former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman dropped out and endorsed Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry quit and backed Gingrich.

Romney responded awkwardly to questions about releasing his income tax returns, and about his investments in the Cayman Islands. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, benefited from two well-received debate performances while grappling with allegations by an ex-wife that he had once asked her for an open marriage so he could keep his mistress.

By primary eve, Romney was speculating openly about a lengthy battle for the nomination rather than the quick knockout that had seemed within his grasp only days earlier.

There were 25 Republican National Convention delegates at stake, but political momentum was the real prize with the race to pick an opponent to President Barack Obama still in its early stages.

In all, more than $12 million was spent on television ads by the candidates and their allies in South Carolina, much of it on attacks designed to degrade the support of rivals.

Interviews with voters as they left polling places showed nearly half saying their top priority was finding a candidate who could defeat Obama in the fall, followed by wishes for experience, strong moral character and true conservatism.

In a state with 9.9 percent unemployment, concern about the economy was high, and almost one-third of those voting reported a household member had lost a job in the past three years.

The exit poll was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as voters left polls at 35 randomly selected sites. The survey involved interviews with 1,577 voters and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Santorum announced shortly after the polls closed that he would open his campaign in Florida on Sunday.

Paul has said he intends to skip the state and focus his efforts on caucus contests in Nevada on Feb 4 and Missouri several days later.

One piece of primary day theater failed to materialize when the two men avoided crossing paths at Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville, packed with partisans holding signs that read either “Romney” or “Newt 2012.”

Romney rolled in earlier than expected, and had left by the time Gingrich arrived.

Santorum got a lift hours before the polls closed when the Iowa Republican Party declared him the winner of the caucuses on Jan. 3. Romney was pronounced the victor by eight votes initially, but on Thursday, party officials said a recount showed Santorum ahead by 34. Even so, they declared the outcome a tie.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, pinned his South Carolina hopes on a heavy turnout in parts of the state with large concentrations of social conservatives, the voters who carried him to his surprisingly strong showing in Iowa.

Paul had a modest campaign presence here after finishing third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire. His call to withdraw U.S. troops from around the world was a tough sell in a state dotted with military installations and home to many veterans.

As the first Southern primary, South Carolina has been a proving ground for Republican presidential hopefuls in recent years.

Since Ronald Reagan in 1980, every Republican contender who won the primary has gone on to capture the party’s nomination.

Romney’s stumbles began even before his New Hampshire primary victory, when he told one audience that he had worried earlier in his career about the possibility of being laid off.

He gave a somewhat rambling, noncommittal response in a debate in Myrtle Beach last Monday when asked if he would release his tax returns before the primary. The following day, he told reporters that because most of his earnings come from investments, he paid about 15 percent of his income in taxes, roughly half the rate paid by millions of middle-class wage-earners. A day later, aides confirmed that some of his millions are invested in the Cayman Islands, although they said he did not use the offshore accounts as a tax haven.

Asked again at a debate in North Charleston on Thursday about releasing his taxes, his answer was anything but succinct and the audience appeared to boo.

Gingrich benefited from a shift in strategy that recalled his approach when he briefly soared to the top of the polls in Iowa. At mid-week he began airing a television commercial that dropped all references to Romney and his other rivals, and contended that he was the only Republican who could defeat Obama.

It featured several seconds from the first debate in which the audience cheered as he accused Obama of having put more Americans on food stamps than any other president.

Nor did Gingrich flinch when ex-wife Marianne said in an interview on ABC that he had been unfaithful for years before their divorce in 1999, and asked him for an open marriage.

Asked about the accusation in the opening moments of the second debate of the week, he unleashed an attack on ABC and debate host CNN and accused the “liberal news media” of trying to help Obama by attacking Republicans. His ex-wife’s account, he said, was untrue.

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augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 01/21/12 - 08:41 pm
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Oh yeah! Proud of my home

Oh yeah! Proud of my home state tonight! Wished I was still a SC citizen, wanted to go vote myself.

Cdr4500
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Cdr4500 01/21/12 - 08:52 pm
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S.C. GOP Primary Results
Unpublished

S.C. GOP Primary Results According to The Chronicle:

Candidate Percent Votes

0 of 2,129 - 0% precincts 1,974
Gary Johnson 0.05% 1
Herman Cain 0.61% 12
Jon Huntsman 1.98% 39
Michele Bachmann 0.20% 4
Mitt Romney 47.67% 941
Newt Gingrich 25.18% 497
Rick Perry 2.18% 43
Rick Santorum 12.82% 253
Ron Paul 9.32% 1

How is Gingrich the victor again? I mean to me it looks like Romney has a 20 point lead on him...

allhans
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allhans 01/21/12 - 09:45 pm
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Drat!

Drat!

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 01/21/12 - 10:02 pm
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C'mon allhans, this isn't bad

C'mon allhans, this isn't bad news. :)

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 01/21/12 - 10:09 pm
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Knowing South Carolinians

Knowing South Carolinians like I do...I'm not surprised. Newt scored major points the other night when he basically told John King to "stuff it" South Carolinians LOVE that sort of thing. The Christians I know there are a bit mistrustful of Mormons. And most folks I know there seem to think Ron Paul is a bit anti-military. Neither is good in the "Palmetto State".Whether this will translate into momentum to win the nomination.....eh....Probably not. But the large turnout cannot be good for "Our Dear Ruler". I'm sure his strategists can't be happy about THAT part of the equation....Which is good news for America...

Chillen
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Chillen 01/21/12 - 10:24 pm
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augusta citizen is right, its

augusta citizen is right, its certainly not bad news. Any of the four will beat the community organizer and Gingrich has proven that he can also beat the mainstream media (the ex wifey-poo story has all but died). Obama's record is so bad that no sane, upstanding real American could possibly vote for him.

Conservative man summed it up nicely " the large turnout cannot be good for Our Dear Ruler" He has less than one year left to continue his destructive ways. I hope we can survive it.

faithson
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faithson 01/21/12 - 10:30 pm
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"Romney dares not go there.

"Romney dares not go there. Not Newt. He’s the street fighter with a history of poisonous politics who not only goes there but dwells there. He makes his nest among the thorns of open animus and coded language... Gingrich is appealing to (and exposing) an ugly, gut-level anger and animosity among a sizable portion of the Republican electorate. This may work for him in the primaries, but it doesn’t bode well for his party in November." By CHARLES M. BLOW

kiwiinamerica
950
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kiwiinamerica 01/21/12 - 10:47 pm
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*Marv Albert
Unpublished

*Marv Albert voice*......................Yeeessssss!!!!

I have no use for RINO Romney.

wtinney
0
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wtinney 01/21/12 - 11:11 pm
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I told you a week ago when

I told you a week ago when Romney supposedly had a double-digit lead in SC that evangelicals WILL NOT VOTE FOR A MORMON and evangelicals are the base of the republican party. They're willing to vote for an adulterous, Washington insider, amnesty supporting, TARP supporting, ObamaCare mandate supporting disaster than Romney ONLY because Romney is a Mormon. I disagree with it but there you have it. By the way, Paul was totally doused in the south. Watch similar results develop in most southern and midwestern states - except Florida. It looks like Newt is gonna get this one.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/21/12 - 11:39 pm
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Please read thoughtfully

Please read thoughtfully wtinney's post above. Here is his conclusion:

I told you a week ago when Romney supposedly had a double-digit lead in SC that evangelicals WILL NOT VOTE FOR A MORMON and evangelicals are the base of the republican party.

I agree with wtinney's premise, but I hope and pray that his conclusion is wrong. The ABAMs * triumphed tonight in South Carolina, but I pray that they do not represent the mindset of the heartland of the U.S. . . . Anti-Mormon bigotry should not select the Republican presidential nominee.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - -

* ABAM — Anybody But A Mormon

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 01/21/12 - 11:29 pm
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No surprise, advantage to

No surprise, advantage to Obama.

Jake
32960
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Jake 01/21/12 - 11:34 pm
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Let's see how the Newt plays

Let's see how the Newt plays out in the other states who's voters have a higher IQ than the one's in South Carolina.

Little Lamb
47048
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Little Lamb 01/21/12 - 11:38 pm
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I read that Gingrich was born

I read that Gingrich was born in Pennsylvania, reared in the Lutheran faith, and accepted it for himself when of age. Then, after teaching college history for a while in Georgia, he decided to run for political office. His handlers convinced him that being a Lutheran was poisonous in Georgia, so he converted to the Southern Baptist Convention. After winning state office, then national office, he was disgraced as Speaker of the House; and slinked away into political lobbying, consulting, and speaking engagements.

After two marriages (in which he was adulterous), he converted to the religion of his third wife, Catholicism.

Tell me, what do the evangelicals see in this behavior that makes them want to vote for Gingrich, other than anti-Mormon bigotry?

Riverman1
87157
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Riverman1 01/21/12 - 11:42 pm
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LL, you see the evangelicals

LL, you see the evangelicals have some weird beliefs, too, but their beliefs are older. Mormons will tell you Jesus walked around in New York, not too long ago. We know that's not true because the Catholics would declare it a miracle if it were. I'm a Southern Baptist and we look carefully at anything coming after the Book of Genesis. Time makes things more acceptable.

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 01/21/12 - 11:55 pm
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faithson's post.."Gingrich is

faithson's post.."Gingrich is appealing to (and exposing) an ugly gut-level anger and animosity among a sizable portion of the Republican electorate".
I'll agree with part of that statement. It is gut-level, and it is anger. But it's not neccessarily ugly.It seems to me to be a reaction to what most Americans see as an attempt to "fundamentally transform" this country into something it was never meant to be. Tonight has very little to do with an endorsement of Newt, but EVERYTHING to do with a repudiation of Obama.

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 01/21/12 - 11:53 pm
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Oh Jake, say you didn't say

Oh Jake, say you didn't say that.

I am a Christian conservative and it isn't anti-Mormonism, maybe for some but not most. I think Conservative Man is closer to the truth, South Carolinians loved the way Newt dealt with John King, they like his knowledge and hard hitting ways. He is inspiring when he speaks; Romney is like damp toast, no passion, no fire in the belly. Newt isn't perfect but he can stand up to the socialists, the mad Marxists, the liberal media that are so controlling of everything in our country, Romney is too milquetoast and passive. That doesn't impress South Carolinians.

Little Lamb
47048
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Little Lamb 01/21/12 - 11:58 pm
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So, augusta citizen, Newt's

So, augusta citizen, Newt's admitted adulterous marriages and his serial denominational switches don't register on the alarm meter of the conservative Christians?

bjphysics
36
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bjphysics 01/21/12 - 11:59 pm
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And finally the truth comes

And finally the truth comes out about the Republican base and their commitment to the Constitution.

But many of us already knew this.

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 01/22/12 - 12:03 am
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Little Lamb, absolutely, I

Little Lamb, absolutely, I don't like many things in Newt's past. I can't judge his heart about his marriages or adultery, don't approve of it, not at all, but he says he's repented, so I have to believe he has, no one knows his heart except for him and the Lord. His denomination changes, I'm not very familiar with, but we need a strong leader, who knows what to do and how to do it. We need a person with guts to turn some things around, can Newt do it? I don't know, but I sure don't see Romney doing it.

Conservative Man
5577
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Conservative Man 01/22/12 - 12:13 am
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My commitment to the

My commitment to the Constitution entails replacing our current "Marxist in Chief". Period..
As I said earlier..tonight is less of an endorsement of Newt but more of a repudiation of Mr.Obama.....

Little Lamb
47048
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Little Lamb 01/22/12 - 12:09 am
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I guess faithfulness and

I guess faithfulness and steadfastness are some of those “quaint values” the Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff were referring to in today's editorial. Republicans are no longer clinging to them like a tree in a hurricane. From now on, it is expediency for the Republicans. They need to descend to a level playing field to where the Democrats are regarding morality.

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 01/22/12 - 12:11 am
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Conservative Man said, "...It

Conservative Man said, "...It seems to me to be a reaction to what most Americans see as an attempt to 'fundamentally transform' this country into something it was never meant to be."...Amen!

Little Lamb
47048
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Little Lamb 01/22/12 - 12:14 am
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Augusta Citizen wrote: Newt .

Augusta Citizen wrote:

Newt . . . says he's repented, so I have to believe he has. . . .

I understand repentance. Repentance involves a degree of penance, humility, and meekness. I have not seen these qualities evidenced in Newt.

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 01/22/12 - 12:18 am
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No Little Lamb, faithfulness

No Little Lamb, faithfulness and steadfastness are not mere "quaint values". I don't know where Newt Gingrich is in his walk of faith, in his repentance, I have to assume he's where he says he is. I don't have any issues with Romney as a person, not his faith, his lifestyle or any other personal characteristics, I just don't see him as a strong leader. I will vote for him if he is the nominee. I prefer a stronger leader though.

rmwardsr
525
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rmwardsr 01/22/12 - 12:20 am
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Sometimes one has to fight

Sometimes one has to fight fire with fire. Newt's personal life thirteen years ago does not make a difference. We had to endure eight years of Bill Clinton with mistresses coming out of the wood works, and even from under the Oval Office desk. We are in serious trouble and we need someone to lead us out of this fine mess the democrat's have gotten us into, and I for one think Newt is the man to do it. He has been married to his current wife since 1999, and has had no extramarital affairs since then, so what is the problem? Do you think reelecting Obama will solve the problem? And Little Lamb, there is no alarm meter. I am a born again Christian. If we listen to the liberal media, we will all wind up in hell.

Riverman1
87157
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Riverman1 01/22/12 - 12:21 am
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You could repent without

You could repent without being meek.

augusta citizen
9698
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augusta citizen 01/22/12 - 12:29 am
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Maybe there is humility and

Maybe there is humility and meekness, it would probably be seen more by his family than the public. There is a time for humility and a time for battle, we have to have the wisdom to know when the time is right for both. We must seek guidance for when to turn the other cheek and when to trade everything we own for a sword.

Little Lamb
47048
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Little Lamb 01/22/12 - 12:34 am
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RMWard, Sr., wrote: He [Newt]

RMWard, Sr., wrote:

He [Newt] has been married to his current wife since 1999, and has had no extramarital affairs since then.

You do not know this. You merely assert it.

Bonk
8
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Bonk 01/22/12 - 12:37 am
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43% of those polled in SC

43% of those polled in SC said that a candidate's religion mattered in their decision. PLEASE, God, don't let the rest of the country adopt this way thinking! Obama is popping champagne corks tonight. SC republicans are on his side.

Little Lamb
47048
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Little Lamb 01/22/12 - 12:45 am
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Thank you, Bonk. Those SC

Thank you, Bonk. Those SC republicans who voted for Newt really are on Obama's side. !

:-(

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