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Gingrich wins in South Carolina

Republican candidate race opens up as Romney loses out

Newt Gingrich has beaten Mitt Romney in South Carolina's primary election with 40 per cent of the vote to Romney's 28 per cent. The result means that the race for the nomination is now wide open again: the winner in South Carolina has won the nomination in each election since 1980.

Other Republican potential candidates, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, fell behind with 17 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

After the result, Gingrich tweeted:

"Thank you South Carolina! Help me deliver the knockout punch in Florida."

He also appeared at the state campaign headquarters and in a clear reference to his rival Romney, said to his supporters:

"We don't have the kind of money that at least one of the candidates has, but we do have ideas and we do have people and we have proved here in South Carolina that people power with the right ideas beats big money and with your help we are going to prove it again in Florida."

The Florida contest will take place on 31 January.