Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich came back from the political dead again Saturday, upsetting Mitt Romney to capture the South Carolina GOP Primary.
After falling from frontrunner to the bottom of the polls in recent weeks, Gingrich surged in the last week, capitalizing on campaign gaffes from former frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Networks declared Gingrich the winner as soon as polls closed.
With 99.49 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Gingrich leads with 40 percent (242,417 votes), followed by Romney with 28 percent (167,419 votes), Rick Santorum at 17 (101,914) and Ron Paul collecting 13 (77,943).
Exit polls showed South Carolina voters felt Gingrich has a better shot than Romney at defeating President Barack Obama.
Coming into South Carolina after the New Hampshire primary, Romney appeared to have the momentum. He had two apparent wins and led early polls by more than 20 points. But Romney stumbled in two debates and failed to come up with an acceptable answer on why he won’t release his income tax returns. To make matters worse, a recount showed he didn’t win the Iowa caucuses.
Romney had endorsements from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and GOP Senator Jim DeMint, both favorites of the tea party. Gingrich had endorsements from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out of the race on Thursday and actor Chuck Norris.