COLUMBIA, S.C.--When Newt Gingrich took the stage to make his first actual victory speech of the election cycle, the room, packed to the brim, was sweltering.
The party was hopping. For two hours, the DJ hired by the campaign had been spinning dance-club hits. "That's right!" he said over the loudspeaker moments before Gingrich entered the room. "Pump it up. Pump it up people. Yeeeah!"
Unlike the past two Gingrich election night events, the people here appeared to be enjoying themselves. Some were even, in fact, pumping it up. The booze was flowing. Energy was high. Even some news reporters couldn't resist smuggling in a few dance moves in their chairs near the back.
As Gingrich made his way to the lectern, the crowd burst into applause, chanting, "Newt Can Win! Newt Can Win!"
There was reason to party. Before South Carolina, Gingrich couldn't place better than fourth, and now, finally, he had a win to call his own. And it was no squeaker, either. As of this writing, Gingrich won with 40 percent of the vote.
"Tsunami!" a man near the front shouted.
Instead of delivering a well-tailored address, Gingrich went with his standard stump speech, with a few alterations. He made sure to say things that were nice about Republican contenders and things that were not nice about President Obama. He thanked the people of South Carolina. He asked for continued support in Florida, which holds the next Republican primary contest on Jan. 31. And of course, he reserved time to berate the "elite media."
"The American people feel that they have elites who have been trying for a half century to force us to quit being American," Gingrich said. "If we unleash the American people, we can rebuild the America we love."
The party went on long after Gingrich departed. Couples danced. Republican bros high-fived. The cocktail party carried on, spilling out of the room into the hall, while the more sober-minded turned their sights to Disney World.
Read more scenes, videos, photographs, observations and insights from primary day in South Carolina from the four Yahoo News reporters on the campaign trail.
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