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http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/21/polls-close-in-south-carolina-primary/


Gingrich wins South Carolina primary, Fox News projects


Published January 21, 2012 | FoxNews.com


Newt Gingrich has won the South Carolina Republican primary, Fox News projects, further scrambling an already volatile primary race that has produced three different winners in three states.

Fox News projects that Mitt Romney will place second in the Palmetto State. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are battling for third place, and that contest remains too close to call, though Fox News exit polls show Santorum with a slight lead over the Texas congressman.

Romney's aides had been downplaying expectations by late Saturday, acknowledging the momentum that had been going Gingrich's way in recent days.

Exit polling confirmed his advantage among several groups of voters.

Those who made up their minds late broke for Gingrich, while those who had decided early mostly backed Romney. Late deciders outnumbered early deciders 53-46 percent.

Gingrich also had the advantage among voters who viewed the debates as important. And Gingrich was leading among those who say it's important that a candidate shares their religious beliefs. Romney, a Mormon, led among those who care less about a candidate's religious affiliation.

South Carolina has a reputation as a tie-breaker in the Republican primaries, often setting the winner on a relatively smooth course to the nomination. But Saturday's contest only complicate things. With Gingrich's victory there have been three distinct winners in the first three contests.

Primary day Saturday was marked by tough rhetoric on both sides, previewing the race ahead.

In the morning, Gingrich mocked Romney after the former Massachusetts governor came and went at a campaign stop where both candidates were expected to meet.

"Where's Mitt?" Gingrich said mockingly, as he arrived at a Greenville diner just minutes after Romney's bus rolled out.

In a coincidence of scheduling, both Romney and Gingrich had booked events at Tommy's Ham House shortly before 11 a.m. The campaigns only realized the issue a day earlier, though insisted they would not change their schedules. However, Romney showed up 45 minutes early. When Gingrich arrived, he ribbed his rival.

"I thought he was going to stay and maybe we'd have a little debate here this morning," Gingrich said.

Gingrich sounded increasingly confident about his chances in the South Carolina contest as he cast himself as the "genuine conservative" to go up against President Obama.

Not to be outdone, Romney's campaign later put out a statement celebrating the "15th anniversary" of the House decision to reprimand Gingrich for ethics violations, during his days as speaker.

Romney suggested Saturday morning in Greenville that he's girding for a drawn-out election, while sounding optimistic about his odds in the long run.

"We're going to work tirelessly to make sure we win this thing, not just (in South Carolina). We'd like to win here, of course, but we have a long way to go," he said.

On the final day, Gingrich and Romney sparred over each other's call to release detailed personal records.

Gingrich on Saturday rejected calls by Romney for him to release extensive information about the ethics investigation while he was House speaker. Gingrich dismissed the demand as a ploy to "divert" from the fact Romney has not committed to releasing his tax returns before April.

Romney's fortunes have taken a sharp turn over the past week. He initially headed into South Carolina with a win in Iowa and New Hampshire under his belt.

Then the Iowa GOP announced that Santorum, and not Romney, had actually won the Iowa caucuses -- party officials declared Santorum the winner late Friday night after giving a qualified announcement earlier in the week. Rick Perry also dropped out on Thursday, endorsing Gingrich.

And while Gingrich has deflected questions about claims made by his second wife, Romney has struggled to explain why he won't release his tax returns in the near future.

Santorum, on Fox News, disputed Gingrich's description of himself as a "Reagan conservative."

He criticized Gingrich for his past support of an individual mandate -- the requirement to buy health insurance that is at the heart of the federal health care overhaul -- and of the financial industry bailout. Santorum argued that neither Romney nor Gingrich is what the GOP needs in a nominee.

"Mitt Romney is a moderate, someone who is timid in his tax plan, timid in his approach to cleaning up Washington and reducing the budget deficit," he said. "And Newt Gingrich is, you know, unpredictable."

"We don't need either of those things," Santorum said. He added, in reference to his trademark attire, "We need ... the guy with the sweater vest that everybody trusts."
 

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Paul is projected 4th. I hate them all but Romney is too much of a pussy to stand up to Obama. Sadly, Gingrich might be the winning hand......
 

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You were rooting for ROMNEY?
No Paul out of the garbage that's left. Gingrich is my least favorite candidate as I have said from his running announcement.
 

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i would rather have romney than gingrich any day. Gingrich has a history of proven corruption that should exclude him from holding any public office. That and the man has zero morals.
x2
 

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I dunno, I think the Grinch will do well against Obama. As a Democrat, the Grinch looks more like Reagan than Romney ever will. Believe it or not, we could live with him. Romney, not so much.
 

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I dunno, I think the Grinch will do well against Obama. As a Democrat, the Grinch looks more like Reagan than Romney ever will. Believe it or not, we could live with him. Romney, not so much.
I think Gingrich is very smart. I also think he is the most dishonest candidate in my lifetime. Romney is dumb, but not pure evil.

I would vote Obama before Gingrich.
 

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I think Gingrich is very smart. I also think he is the most dishonest candidate in my lifetime. Romney is dumb, but not pure evil.

I would vote Obama before Gingrich.
I disagree. Gingrich has fucked up and everyone knows about it. Romney is the kind of guy with a truck load of skeletons in his walk-in closet.
 

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I think Gingrich is very smart. I also think he is the most dishonest candidate in my lifetime. Romney is dumb, but not pure evil.

I would vote Obama before Gingrich.
I wouldn't go that far but I would note vote before I voted Gingrich.

"Gingrich has a history of proven corruption that should exclude him from holding any public office. That and the man has zero morals" is dead on.
 

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I disagree. Gingrich has fucked up and everyone knows about it. Romney is the kind of guy with a truck load of skeletons in his walk-in closet.
Until skeletons start emerging that's pure speculation. I don't doubt that Romney has some questionable things in his past that will come to light but I doubt a "truck load" is accurate. Gingrich very well may have a truck load MORE skeletons in his closet that we don't even know about, he's a slimy douche, no thanks.
 
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