The percentages last night: Gingrich 40%, Romney 28%, Santorum 17%, Paul 13%.
A roundup of front pages:
The Charleston Post and Courier: “A Gingrich rout.”
The Greenville News: “It’s Newt.”
The Rock Hill Herald: “Gingrich comes from behind to win in S.C.”
The Miami Herald: “Newt’s win sets stage for Fla. battle.”
Tampa Bay Times: “Gingrich takes win into Fla.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Gingrich’s hometown paper): “Gingrich reshapes race.”
The New York Times: “Upset by Gingrich shifts GOP campaign.”
The Washington Post: “Gingrich upends race.” Subhed: “He sails into first place in South Carolina, leaving Republicans without a clear front-runner.”
The Boston Globe: “Gingrich roars to win S.C., upending Republican contest.” Subhed: “Suddenly for Romney, Florida win seems a must.”
The State: “Gingrich routs Romney.” “S.C. Republicans went rogue Saturday, choosing Newt Gingrich for president in the state’s GOP primary. In the process, the primary results threw the 2012 Republican presidential race into chaos and upended 30 years of precedence – of always endorsing the GOP’s establishment candidate.”
And: “The S.C. results also call into question the ability of onetime GOP front-runner Mitt Romney to rally the Republican base in the fall’s general election against Democrat President Barack Obama. … In South Carolina, Gingrich found an electorate clamoring for anyone-but-Romney, and he used two nationally televised debates in the days leading up to the primary to consolidate that vote.”
The State’s Gina Smith: “S.C. Republicans are frustrated, and it showed Saturday… Republican voters statewide found a mouthpiece for their anger Saturday in Newt Gingrich, overwhelmingly handing him a primary victory after he dominated two well-watched debates in the crucial last days before the primary.”
And ahead of Monday’s NBC-National Journal-Tampa Bay Times debate, Smith makes this point: “Debate performance never mattered more… Front-runner Romney may have had the cash, outspending Gingrich in the Palmetto State by nearly 2-1, and the air of inevitability, but he failed to galvanize the GOP base and proved to be lackluster in the debates.”
More: “All in all, it was a bad week for Romney, who was assailed for his role as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital, his offshoring of money in the Cayman Islands and had his Iowa win reversed by a recount that found former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania the winner.
In the end, Romney won the largest number of voters only among the rich, those earning $200,000 or more; the very well-educated, those with post-graduate degrees; those who call themselves moderates; and non-evangelicals in Saturday’s primary, according to exit polling.” This from a GOP primary voter, who voted for Gingrich: “Romney is one of the 1 percent,” said Chester Woodward of Columbia. “But he tries to hide it.”
The New York Post: “Newt Gingrich scored a stunning landslide victory in the South Carolina Republican primary last night, blowing past Mitt Romney and opening up the GOP nominating contest just days after an ex-wife gave a sensational TV interview accusing him of wanting an ‘open marriage.’ … Gingrich’s come-from behind win sets up a recast multistate slugfest — a remarkable turnaround for a candidate once left for dead and dismissed in attack ads as having too much ‘baggage.’”
“To say Newt Gingrich capped an extraordinary comeback with a South Carolina victory doesn't quite capture what happened. It was more like vindication,” AP’s Beaumont writes, adding, “He did it by finding his voice and rallying conservatives with a populist defiance.” More: “It was on the debate stage that the pugnacious Gingrich arguably revived his presidential campaign, not once but twice in the past year, by giving a tea party-infused GOP exactly what it's hungering for -- a no-holds-barred attack dog willing to go after President Barack Obama with abandon.”
Rich Lowry: “Newt Gingrich made history last night. He’s the first presidential candidate to use an ex-wife’s allegation that he requested an ‘open marriage’ to vault to an astonishing, campaign-saving primary victory.” And then makes this point: “If Romney can’t right himself and Gingrich goes on to win Florida, every major elected Republican in the country will panic. Every unlikely scenario to get another candidate in the race will be explored. Because whatever GOP primary voters in South Carolina think about his electability, Gingrich is currently radioactive among the general public.”'
The New York Daily News calls Gingrich’s win a “stunning comeback.” “Newt Gingrich completed a stunning political comeback by winning a do-or-die South Carolina primary Saturday - thrusting the Republican presidential nomination race into turmoil,” it writes, adding, “South Carolina could have been a coronation for Romney, who would have all but locked up the GOP nomination with a win. But the bitter defeat capped of a brutal week for the former frontrunner, whose Iowa caucus victory disappeared days ago in a recount, and who now heads to the Sunshine State bloodied and battered - with questions swirling about whether he can ever truly win over the right-wing core of his party.
The Daily News’ DeFrank writes, “South Carolina’s rebellious Republicans rewarded an improbable, against-the-grain victor — but he wasn’t even on the ballot” – Barack Obama. “Mitt Romney’s disastrous tax meltdown, coupled with Newt Gingrich’s adroit bellicosity, media-baiting and Washington-bashing, have campaign strategists smiling this weekend in the Chicago headquarters of the Democratic nominee.”
Still: “barring cataclysm, Romney remains the odds-on favorite to win the nomination. He’s better organized, better financed and generally better equipped to go the distance. … That table tilts Romney’s way going forward. He’s ahead in Florida and expected to win upcoming contests in Nevada, Colorado, his native Michigan and Arizona, where John McCain has endorsed him. Moreover, the prospect of Gingrich carrying the GOP torch against Obama is anathema to party elders, who know his undisciplined side and personal baggage.”
The Boston Globe also notes, “Now comes the hard part for Newt Gingrich. After winning South Carolina, resource-draining Florida, with its 10 media markets, awaits, and unless his performance here generates a gusher of new cash and bodies, he lacks the infrastructure and money of Mitt Romney, who has plenty of resources to fall back. … In Florida, you cannot run an effective statewide campaign without a heavy television presence, and that can eat up more than $1 million a week for a modest buy.”
The Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson: “The South Carolina primary results have conclusively blown a hole in Mitt Romney’s inevitability strategy. They’ve also presented Republicans with something of a political dilemma as they contemplate their 2012 presidential nominee. Do they rally around their most conservative elements - and risk broader general election appeal - by backing either Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum? Or do they nominate Romney, who may have the GOP establishment support and organizational advantages to win a long primary campaign, but who still hasn’t shown an ability to connect to the hearts - on top of the minds - of the electorate?”
Gingrich won all but three counties.
Despite rain, South Carolina set a turnout record: With 13 of 2,129 precincts not yet reported, 601,166 South Carolinians voted, according to the South Carolina Election Commission. That beats the 2000 record of 576,000,” The State reports.
“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told Bloomberg he will ‘stay neutral’ in the state's Republican presidential primary while warning his party's candidates to leave the ‘circular firing squad’ of their debates behind and start appealing to a broader audience,” Political Wire writes.
Delegate tracker: Gingrich now leads in the delegate count (1,143 are needed for the nomination):
Norm Ornstein on the role of Super PACs and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. "By giving corporations free rein to meddle in politics without any accountability required, just like in the robber baron days, and by defining money as speech, the court dealt a body blow to American democracy. Candidates no longer can focus simply on raising money for their campaigns against other candidates. Because corporations have almost unlimited sums they can put in with no notice, candidates have to raise protection money in advance just in case such a campaign is waged against them." (Hat tip: Political Wire.)
PAUL: “Ron Paul vowed to press forward with his quest for the Republican presidential nomination on Saturday even as early vote tallies showed him headed for a fourth-place finish in the South Carolina primary,” the L.A. Times writes. Paul said, “The message of liberty is being received by more people every single day.” More: “His volunteers took Paul’s loss as a small setback, if that, for a man whose candidacy is at least as much a movement as a bid for public office.”
AP: “Brushing off his poor last place finish in the South Carolina primary Saturday, Republican Ron Paul promised supporters the momentum around his libertarian-leaning campaign would continue. ‘This is the beginning of a long, hard job,’” he said. And: “[T]he weak fourth-place finish was still a blow to Paul, who came in a respectable second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in New Hampshire last week and placed third in Iowa behind Romney and Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania. And it raised anew the question of whether he was in the race to win or simply wanted his views to gain maximum influence within the party.”
ROMNEY: Romney will release his tax returns Tuesday, Romney said on FOX News Sunday, per NBC's Garrett Haake.
SANTORUM: “Vowing to go forward, Republican Rick Santorum cast his disappointing third-place finish in this state's primary as a hiccup and pledged Saturday to continue campaigning in a race he called ‘wide open,’” AP writes. Santorum said, “Three states. Three different winners. What a great country," Santorum said.
More: “The disadvantages that plagued Santorum early on -- lack of money, shell operations, negligible advertising -- gave way to a more professional campaign here. He had the money to air ads, hire staff and cover as much ground as possible with a private airplane. Many of his senior advisers had deep roots to the state and in recent days he beamed confidently that South Carolina could give him his second win in an early state. That win didn't come Saturday and his advisers were shuffling to reset the campaign yet again, this time in costly Florida.”