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NBC News projects that Newt Gingrich will win the Republican South Carolina primary

Matt Rourke / AP

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich takes part in a TV interview during a campaign event at the Grapevine Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C., on Jan. 21, 2012.

Michael O’Brian reports on msnbc.com that Newt Gingrich has won the South Carolina Republican primary, capping off a remarkable comeback for his presidential bid that reshapes the trajectory of the battle for the GOP nomination.

Based on early exit polls, NBC News projects Gingrich as the winner of the primary, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will finish second.

See more photographic coverage of the South Carolina primary

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney battled nearly toe-to-toe for last-minute votes in the first-in-the-South primary. NBC's Ron Mott reports.