Newt Gingrich wins Georgia presidential primary


ATLANTA,None - Newt Gingrich has been declared the winner of the Georgia Republican presidential primary.

The Associated Press declared Gingrich the winner as polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday. He gained 47 percent of the vote, with 86 percent of precincts reporting.

The former House Speaker needed a very strong showing in his former state, and he picked up at least 23 delegates. Georgia has a total of 76 delegates at stake, and Gingrich is likely to pick up even more as the votes are tallied.

Channel 2’s Lori Geary and Richard Belcher covered the Gingrich campaign headquarters in Cobb County. Gingrich made his victory announcement around 8:30 p.m., thanking supporters and reaffirming his determination to stay in the race.

“There are lots of bunny rabbits that run through. I am the tortoise,” Gingrich said.

Though Gingrich had a good night in Georgia, early numbers showed his rivals winning in all of the other Super Tuesday states. The AP reported Romney won primaries in Massachusetts, Virginia and Vermont, and Santorum won in Oklahoma and Tennessee. After midnight, the AP declared Romney narrowly won Ohio.

Romney’s top adviser for Georgia said Romney has the kind of support in Georgia that could help if he becomes the Republican Party's nominee.

“The momentum's been behind the governor the last week, especially after the win in Washington state on Saturday, so let's hope it all pays off today, not just in Georgia but across the country,” Eric Tanenblatt told Channel 2’s Linda Stouffer in Buckhead.

Leaders for the Romney campaign in Georgia said their goal was to keep Santorum below the 20 percent threshold and limit his delegates, while Santorum campaign members said they were out all night trying to stay above the 20 percent mark. Santorum earned 26 percent of the vote in Georgia on Tuesday.

Channel 2’s John Bachman watched primary results with Santorum supporters in Duluth.

"What I want from the night is Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee and as many delegates as I can get in Georgia," Santorum’s Georgia Field Director Kathy Hildebrand told Bachman.

Georgia has the most delegates of all 10 states that voted on Tuesday. A proportional amount of 34 at-large delegates are available to any candidate who receives at least 20 percent of the vote. The remaining 42 delegates are awarded based on congressional district.

There were other caucuses in North Dakota, Idaho and Alaska. A total of 419 delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday. It takes 1,144 to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention this August in Tampa, Fla.

Despite victories in five states, Mitt Romney still faces a long road to the GOP nomination.

"Tomorrow, we wake up and we start again. And the next day, we'll do the same," the former Massachusetts governor told a hometown crowd Tuesday night, well before it was clear he'd won in critical Ohio. "And so we'll go, day by day, step by step, door by door, heart to heart. There will be good days. There will be bad days. Always long hours, never enough time to get everything done."