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newt and callista gingrich in south carolina Newt Gingrich waves to the crowd after speaking during a├?┬?├?┬áSouth Carolina Republican presidential primary night rall on January 21 in Columbia, S.C. Callista Gingrich looks on at right. (Photo: AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Election 2012: Gingrich Wins South Carolina

Former Speaker of the House worked to connect with voters

By Zach Dalzell | January 23 , 2011

Voters in South Carolina headed to the polls on Saturday — and they shook up the Republican race for President.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary with 40.4 percent of the vote.

After the results of the election were announced, Gingrich said he won because of his conservative views.

"The American people feel that they have elites who have been trying for a half century to force us to try to quit being American, and become some kind of other system," Gingrich told his supporters.

His victory stunned Mitt Romney's campaign. The former Massachusetts Governor finished second with 27.8 percent of the vote. Romney was considered the favorite to win South Carolina after winning the New Hampshire primary.

Rick Santorum finished in third place with 17 percent of the vote, and Ron Paul finished in fourth with 13 percent.

Gingrich's victory means that three different candidates have won the first three primaries. Santorum won in Iowa after the final results were certified, Romney won in New Hampshire, and Gingrich won South Carolina. These first elections normally give voters an idea of which candidate will emerge as the nominee. But not this time.

"This race is getting to be even more interesting," Romney said after the South Carolina results were announced. "This is a hard fight because there is so much worth fighting for. We've still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do."

Gingrich emerged as a favorite of South Carolina voters thanks to his performances in two debates. He also spent a lot of time campaigning in the state. He met voters at town halls and book signings. This allowed him to get his message and campaign to a large number of voters.

But Gingrich thinks there is more to his victory than just a good showing at a debate.

"People completely misunderstand what is going on," Gingrich said on election night. "It's not that I'm a good debater, its just that I articulate the deeply held values of the American people."

The day before the election, Gingrich shared those values at an event on the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier in Charleston's harbor. He was introduced by retired Marine Major General Jim Livingson. The general warmed up the crowd by telling them that a vote for Gingrich is a vote for changes.

"Let's send the message to Washington that the Obama experiment has failed," General Livingston said.

When Gingrich came to the podium, one of the areas he focused on was the next generation and the reason children should be educated about American history.

"There is a reason that in the Star Spangled Banner we say the land of the free and the home of the brave," Gingrich said.

After the speech, I asked him what he would do as President to create jobs for new college graduates.

"I want to create an entirely new economy," he said.

The next Republican primary will be held in Florida on January 31. Stay with the Kids Press Corps and Scholastic News for the latest from the campaign trail.


Scholastic News Kid Reporters are on the campaign trail! Keep up with latest election news on the Election 2012 website.


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