Scrambled GOP race heads to Florida

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 22 2012 2:10 a.m. MST

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during a South Carolina Republican presidential primary-night rally at The Citadel, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, in Charleston, S.C. Santorum says it's a "wide open race" for the GOP nomination, even after finishing a distant third in Saturday's primary. He'd hoped to build momentum from a late victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Rainier Ehrhardt, Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — A suddenly scrambled Republican presidential contest now shifts to Florida.

It comes a day after Newt Gingrich stopped Mitt Romney's sprint to the GOP nomination by scoring a convincing victory in South Carolina.

The air of inevitability that surrounded Romney's candidacy just days ago is gone, at least for now. And his rivals have 10 days before Florida's Jan. 31 contest to prove South Carolina was no fluke.

Florida, being much larger, more diverse, and more expensive, brings new challenges to Gingrich, who again must overcome financial and organizational disadvantages as he did Saturday.

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