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Gingrich: SC win shows I'm ready for Obama

WASHINGTON -- Newt Gingrich worked to capitalize yesterday on his upset victory in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary, while Mitt Romney moved quickly to cut his losses before the next contest with a promise to release his income tax returns within 48 hours.

Gingrich said in a round of television interviews that his win, both unexpected and unexpectedly large, showed he was the Republican best able to go toe-to-toe with President Barack Obama in the fall.

"I think virtually everybody who looks at the campaign knows I represent the largest amount of change of any candidate, and I think that's why they see me as representing their interest and their concerns, not representing Wall Street or representing the politicians of Washington," he said.

Romney argued that point, but not another, agreeing in a television interview that he had made a mistake by refusing to release his tax returns before Saturday's South Carolina vote.

"If it was a distraction, we want to get back to the real issues in the campaign -- leadership, character and vision for America, how to get jobs in America, and how to rein in the excessive scale of the federal government," he said.

The former Massachusetts governor, who made millions in business, said he will make his 2010 return and an estimate for 2011 available online Tuesday.

The decision marked a concession that Romney had stumbled on his way through South Carolina, a state where he led handsomely in the polls several days before the primary.

The Florida primary on Jan. 31 is next, a 50-delegate contest in one of the most expensive campaign states in the country.

Romney remains the contender with the largest and best-funded organization. "Three states in now, we got 47 more to go," he said, adding he was looking forward to the rest.

For all the political momentum gained in South Carolina, Gingrich made it immediately obvious that he is short on funds.

The former House speaker urged supporters via Twitter Saturday night to donate money, and then announced the name of his campaign website while making a nationally televised victory speech.

With their comments, both Romney and Gingrich indicated the race was a two-way competition, likely to go into the spring if not longer.

Santorum had other ideas.

"We're going to Florida and beyond," he said. As he did in a pair of debates in South Carolina, he criticized both Gingrich -- calling him a "very high-risk candidate" -- and Romney, whom he called a moderate ill-suited to appeal to conservative voters.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the fourth contender, has already said he will skip Florida and focus on Nevada and other caucus states.

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