Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has swept to victory in the South Carolina primary and has upended the Republican presidential nominating process.
Early statewide results show Gingrich with a substantial lead over the former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are projected to be in third and fourth places, respectively. Gingrich has positioned himself to become the Republican alternative to Mitt Romney that Tea Party and social conservatives have sought for months.
This has been an epic week for the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. Late certification of results from the Iowa caucuses led to Romney's slight victory being given to Santorum. Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race. And the second wife of the anti-gay thrice-married serial adulterer Gingrich revealed that her "family values" husband asked for an open marriage.
The Republican presidential campaign now moves to Florida which will host its primary on January 31.