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Jan 21, 2012 11:39 PM by Kirsten Bennett

South Carolina gives Newt Gingrich a big win

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is relishing his upset victory in the South Carolina primary.

The win has dealt a sharp setback to former front-runner Mitt Romney and has elongated the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Gingrich praised his GOP rivals after the win and attacked President Barack Obama and what he described as "elites in New York and Washington."

Gingrich called Obama "the most effective food stamp president in history," adding that he would like to be" the best paycheck president in American history."

Romney appeared unbowed after his defeat. He vowed to contest for every vote "in every state," an acknowledgement that the race would likely be a long one.

Exit polls showed Gingrich led among voters who said their top priority was picking a candidate who could beat Obama - a group that had preferred Romney in earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Rick Santorum, who finished third, vowed to continue his campaign. He urged supporters at a rally in Charleston to "Join the fight."

Ron Paul, who came in last, also told his supporters to "Keep fighting."

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