It was an exceptional evening for Newt Gingrich in South Carolina as he soared to a landslide victory over rival Mitt Romney Saturday night in the Palmetto State as supporters at his victory party welcomed him by chanting, “Newt can’t quit! Newt can’t quit!”
“Thank you to everyone in South Carolina who decided to be with us in changing Washington,” Gingrich said in his victory speech.
“The biggest thing that I take from South Carolina is that it is very humbling and so sobering to have so many people who so deeply want their country to get back on the right track,“ Gingrich said. “It’s not that I am a good debater; it’s that I articulate the deepest felt values of the American people.”
Gingrich gave each candidate left in the GOP race credit for their unique strengths and perspectives. He pointed out that because America is an open and free political system, voters are given options of a wide range of candidate backgrounds to choose from and focused on rebuilding America through the people.
“In America, you have a chance to make your case no matter what the elites think in New York and Washington,” Gingrich said. “This is the most important election of our lifetime. If Barack Obama can get re-elected after this disaster, just think how radical he would be in a second term. So I have a proposal, with your help, we are now moving onto Florida and beyond.”
Gingrich challenged President Obama to seven three hour-long debates, which it's unlikely Obama will agree to. He also said he wanted to be the best “paycheck” president in American history while slamming President Obama once again for being the food-stamp president.
Gingrich touched on developing energy resources in the United States, saying we don’t need to see an U.S. president ever bowing to a Saudi King again.
“The president’s decision to veto the Keystone Pipeline, you know, you have to wonder how out of touch this administration is with reality,” Gingrich said.
Moving forward, Gingrich said the centerpiece of his campaign has been and will be American exceptionalism, not radical Saul Alinsky ideas.
Just a week ago, Romney was projected as the winner in South Carolina, but two debates later and a push against liberal media, Gingrich was able to seal the deal again his rivals and by a large margin.
In the exit polls, Gingrich pulled in 40 percent of married women, 43 percent of evangelicals and 7 out of 10 tea party voters. His debate performances were crucial in his victory as 8 out of 10 voters said debates were important in shaping their decision about who to vote for.
Despite his second place standing tonight, Romney reiterated that he is running a 50 state campaign, running a marathon not a sprint and that the ultimate battle will be taking Obama out of the White House in November after congratulating Newt Gingrich on his victory.
“This race is getting even more interesting,” Romney said in his concession speech. “We’ve still got a long way to go.”
The majority of his speech was dedicated to pointing out the failed policies of President Obama in front and attacks from Republicans on the free market system in front of a crowd chanting, “We need Mitt! We need Mitt!”
“Three years ago, we had nothing but promises and slogans on which to judge this president. Now we have a record.” Romney said. “This election is a battle for the soul of America. It’s a choice between two very different destinies for America.”
Romney also thanked South Carolina governor Nikki Haley for her endorsement and support.
So, what’s next? Newt Gingrich will have to get his ground game in Florida rolling as soon as possible. It’s a heavy and expensive media state and he’ll have to put his funding to good use in multiple areas in order to be effective. Romney set up shop in Florida weeks ago and started running ads at the beginning of January in every important media market available. He is also leading in Florida, according to Townhall Polltracker data. Sadly, South Carolina was probably Rick Santorum’s last ride, despite him declaring his campaign will move forward. Gingrich is sure to bring in a boatload of money after tonight’s victory and Santorum just doesn’t have the money or the organization to make an real impact in Florida.
“Three states, three winners, what a great country,” Santorum said in his speech. “We’re going to Florida then Arizona and then [beyond].”
Ron Paul isn’t going anywhere and will stay in the race until the RNC convention in Tampa.
“This is the beginning of a long slog,” Paul said in his concession speech. “We will be going to the caucus states.”
Gingrich is scheduled to appear on NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning where he will no doubt be asked about his strategy for victory moving forward.