The favorite to sweep into South Carolina and win by double-digits over all-comers a week ago, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was forced to concede the state to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich after a thorough defeat.
"This is a hard fight because there's so much worth fighting for," Romney said after congratulating Gingrich.
Romney also thanked supporters — Gov. Nikki Haley, Treasurer Curtis Loftis and S.C. Rep. Nathan Ballentine — before delivering his stump speech focused on beating President Barack Obama.
In the few days before the primary, after some disappointing debate performances for Romney.
Voters who watched the GOP deabte in Charleston Thursday said with Romney's performance.
Columbia resident Margaret Lombardi was at Romney's speech at the state fairgrounds Saturday night.
"I was disappointed but not that suprised because I've been closely following things this week," Lombardi said. "I was an early decider for Romney and I'm not gone.
"Florida is an important primary coming up and I think Romney's going to win Florida," she said.
Romney said that he would be moving on to Florida, where voters will head to the polls in just 10 days.
"In the coming weeks and months I will compete for every vote. I'll compete in every state," Romney said.
"We're going to win this nomination and we're going to defeat President Obama in November."