Gingrich Upends Republican Race In South Carolina

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich trounced frontrunner Mitt Romney in South Carolina on Saturday in a jarring victory that indicates the party's battle to pick a challenger to President Barack Obama may last months, not weeks.

Gingrich's come-from-behind win in conservative South Carolina injects unexpected volatility into a Republican nominating race that until this week appeared to be a coronation for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and private-equity chief.

Three different candidates - Gingrich, Romney and former senator Rick Santorum - now have won the first three contests in the state-by-state battle for the Republican presidential nomination to face Obama, a Democrat, on November 6.

Gingrich's triumph may lead to a protracted battle of attrition for the Republican nomination in which the candidates expend money and energy to beat each other instead of having the party unite behind one standard-bearer focusing on Obama.

"This is the punch in the mouth/wake up call Romney needed if he wanted to be a strong general election candidate," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said in a Twitter message, referring to the South Carolina results.

Read more from Sam Younman and Steve Holland at Reuters

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published this page in In The News 2012-01-21 23:01:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy