Mitt Romney's South Carolina Chair Softens A Loss: 'We Never Thought It Was Going To Be Three And Out'

ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Though he spent the last six months working to deliver a win for Mitt Romney in the Palmetto State, Romney's South Carolina campaign chairman Curtis Loftis, was already looking ahead to other contests as news networks projected Newt Gingrich would win Saturday's primary.

Lofits, South Carolina's elected state treasurer, joined the Romney campaign in August. Back then, he said he thought the campaign "would be successful if we came in a strong third."

But in the closing weeks of the South Carolina primary, Loftis said he was pleased to be "battling out for first."

"We exceeded our expectations," Loftis said in an interview with ABC News at Romney's election night party at the South Carolina state fairgrounds. "South Carolina is the reddest of red states, so it's difficult for all but the most conservative people to run. So, we've done well. We're set to go to the other states. We have campaign operations in all these other states. And you have to look at the fact that Speaker Gingrich doesn't. He's not even on the ballot in places like Virginia."

Loftis added, "We're ideally set up for a long process. We never thought it was going to be three and out. We always thought it was going to be a long haul."

Like Loftis, the crowd at Romney's event, also appeared ready to move on. Just minutes after polls closed a relatively small group of supporters who gathered here chanted, "Florida! Florida! Florida!"

And, in a symbolic nod to what could be a long road ahead, the song "Life Is A Highway" blared from the speakers here.