With his candidacy diminished, a smiling Mitt Romney emerged amid supporters after losing the South Carolina primary to declare that there’s still a “long way to go and a lot of work to do.”
Romney began his speech at 7:58 p.m. EST — less than an hour after polls closed in the Palmetto State and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was declared the winner of the four-man race.
“You should hear them when we win. I’ll tell you it’s really something,” quipped the former Massachusetts governor, responding to supporters after being handed his second — and most convincing loss of the primary season. “Now this race is getting to be even more interesting. “
Interrupted frequently by chants of “we need Mitt,” Romney vowed to press on to Florida for the next primary contest at the end of the January.
“We’re now three contests into a long primary season. This is a hard fight because there’s so much worth fighting for,” he said. “We’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do and tomorrow we’re going to move on to Florida. It’s a state that has suffered terribly under the failed policies of President Obama.”
While congratulating Gingrich in his remarks, Romney also threw an apparent jab his way. “In recent weeks, the choice within our party has also come into stark focus. President Obama has no experience running a business and no experience running a state,” he said. “Our party can’t be led to victory by someone who also has never run a business and never run a state.”
Moreover, Romney continued, “Let me be clear. If Republican leaders want to join this president in demonizing success and disparaging conservative values then they’re not going to be fit to be our nominee.”
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