Newt Gingrich wins South Carolina Republican primary; in second place, Romney goes on offensive

COLUMBIA, S.C.--Newt Gingrich won South Carolina's Republican presidential primary on Saturday, marking 2012 as the first campaign in history that the first three nominating contests--Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina--were captured by three different GOP candidates.

With 99.49 percent of precincts reporting at 11:16 p.m. ET, Gingrich had received 40 percent of the vote in South Carolina. Mitt Romney followed in second with 28 percent, Rick Santorum received 17 percent, and Ron Paul received 13 percent.

Romney, who delivered his speech just after 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night, said: "This race is getting to be even more interesting ... This is a hard fight because there's so much worth fighting for."

He also tore into Gingrich (without naming him), saying that his opponent's attacks on his business record were nothing less than an attack on free enterprise, and said that his party could not have a nominee who had not either run a business or a state.

Romney appeared to have won the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, but after a final, certified tally of the votes, completed this week, the state Republican party declared late Friday that Santorum actually won the first nominating contest.

Romney did win the New Hampshire primary on January 10. A Gingrich win in South Carolina would almost certainly mean a longer primary season than initially anticipated for the Republican Party.

In the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses, Richard Gephardt won Iowa, Michael Dukakis won New Hampshire, and Jesse Jackson won South Carolina.

Read more coverage of the 2012 South Carolina primary at Yahoo News.

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