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Newt takes S.C. primary

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Newt takes S.C. primary

Santorum vows to stay in race; Romney accused of unfair campaigning

  • Newt Gingrich
    Gage Skidmore/FlickrNewt Gingrich
  • Mitt Romney
    Gage Skidmore/FlickrMitt Romney
  • Rick Santorum
    michaelrighi/FlickrRick Santorum
  • Ron Paul
    Gage Skidmore/FlickrRon Paul

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was the clear winner of the Republican primary in South Carolina on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Gingrich won 40.4 percent of the overall vote, leaving Mitt Romney trailing with 27.9 percent, AP reported.

Gingrich beat rival Mitt Romney among male voters (41 percent to 28 percent), conservatives (43 percent to 26 percent) and Tea Party supporters (43 percent to 28 percent), CBS News reported. Romney won a slight majority of non-Tea Party and moderate voters.

Just 10 days ago, Gingrich finished fifth in the New Hampshire primary, the Times reported.

According to CBS News:

Gingrich's win was due in large part to his strong performance in two debates in the state this week. Nearly two in three GOP primary voters said the debates played an important role in their decision, and more than half (53 percent) made up their minds in the last few days, according to exit poll data.

With Gingrich’s remarkable rise in popularity, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney admitted Friday that he expected to lose "some primaries" to Gingrich along the way.

Gingrich’s victory means a different candidate has won each of the first three GOP primaries, the Wall Street Journal reported. Rick Santorum got the most votes in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, and Mitt Romney came out on top in New Hampshire on Jan. 10.

Santorum vows to continue

Santorum said it is a "wide open race" for the GOP nomination, after finishing third in Saturday's South Carolina primary and vowed to continue on to Florida, the Associated Press reported.

"Three states. Three different winners. What a great country," Santorum said. Speaking on CNN, the former Pennsylvania senator said the race was far from over.

"The great narrative in this is that three days ago there was an inevitability in this race, Mitt Romney was 2-0 and soon to be 3-0," said Santorum. "I took Iowa and Newt took South Carolina. And it’s game on again.. We are going to have it go on for a long time."

In South Carolina, Santorum reacted to the primary results.

“Congrats to Newt, he staked his flag here in South Carolina... and he kicked butt and I give him a lot of credit." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finished first in the South Carolina primary, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Despite the third place finish, the GOP contestant said “this is a long race and this is one of the things people have to understand, as a result of what happened here tonight, this race isn’t going to be over next week or the week after."

He said the long race is the best thing that could happen to future Republican nominee because they would be ready to take on President Barack Obama in the presidential race.

Santorum has said he is the most consistent conservative of the GOP candidates and, thus, the best alternative to Obama in November.

Poll: Romney ran most unfair campaign

South Carolina's Republican voters said Mitt Romney ran the most unfair campaign, according to a CBS News exit poll.

Gingrich trailed at second place with Republican voters in South Carolina saying his campaign was the most unfair. Ron Paul was voted third.

The South Carolina primary upset of GOP presidential front runner Romney saw Gingrich leading the pack in the unpredictable race for presidency.

The surge of more than $12 million campaign dollars spent in mostly attack ads in South Carolina by Republican presidential candidates and their super PACS undoubtedly played a factor.

South Carolina primary Republican voters also noted how important the televised debates played an impact on who they would vote for – events Gingrich has been portrayed as a clear rival for Romney.

About one in two Republican voters in the state said they made up their mind about which candidate they would support within the last few days, according to the CBS News poll.

Additionally, two out of three of the the voters said the Republican presidential debates played a critical factor in their voting decision while one out of three said the debates were not important aspects.

“For Mr. Gingrich, the victory marked a decisive revival for a candidacy that had been declared dead at least twice, and that came back to life in the last days before the primary here partly because of his commanding debate performances, which his aides are using as a selling point in their argument that he provides the best challenge to President Obama,” The Times wrote.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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