Confident Cruz and defiant Trump move focus to New Hampshire

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ANKENY, Iowa — Now comes New Hampshire.

A day after Ted Cruz took Iowa, Republican presidential candidates began flocking to New Hampshire as a new race began taking shape: Cruz touting the strength of his grass-roots organization, Donald Trump vowing a comeback, and Marco Rubio touting a big endorsement in the state of South Carolina.

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"I think it is entirely possible we will know our nominee by the end of March," Cruz told CNN in the hours after his clear win in the Iowa caucuses.

Racking up a record vote in a record caucus turnout, Cruz said he has the grass-roots organizations and the money to replicate his Iowa victory in a number of upcoming primaries.

"This is the power of the conservative grass roots," Cruz said.

Cruz also won the more important delegate race in Iowa, collecting eight delegates to this summer's Republican nominating convention. Trump and Rubio were both awarded seven delegates while fourth-place finisher Ben Carson got three.

Trump, who led late polls in Iowa but took a loss in his first political race, reminded his supporters that he still has a big lead in New Hampshire, and "I think we're going to be proclaiming victory" in the state after next Tuesday's primary. 

He tweeted Tuesday morning that his second-place finish far exceeded early predictions.

 

 

 

Rubio, saying his surprisingly strong third place finish in Iowa gives him momentum, claimed the endorsement of a prominent lawmaker in in another key state: South Carolina. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., whose state holds a primary Feb. 20, said Rubio is the Republicans' best bet for win in the fall general election.

"We have one shot in 2016 to beat Hillary Clinton and that shot is Marco Rubio," Scott said in a video released by the Rubio campaign. "And, with him as our candidate, we win."

Seeking to be the alternative to Trump and Cruz — both of whom are disliked by many Republicans — Rubio told ABC's Good Morning America that he can unite both the Republican Party and the conservative movement after what has been a divisive campaign.

"We're ready to go in New Hampshire," Rubio said.

The Republicans have a debate in the Granite State scheduled for Saturday night, which raises another question: Will Trump show up? He boycotted a debate last week in Des Moines, saying sponsors at Fox News were unfair to him. 

Republicans who finished far back in Iowa — including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich — looked to New Hampshire for a chance to get back into the game.

"We're now in a solid second place in this state," Kasich said on CNN.

Bush and Christie traveled from Iowa to New Hampshire on Monday, before the caucus results came in, both calling for a reset of the race that up to now has focused heavily on Trump, Cruz and their battle in Iowa.

"New Hampshire has a tendency to reset the race" Bush said Tuesday on Fox News. "In 1980 we were all excited with my dad upsetting Ronald Reagan in the Iowa Caucuses and he had 'big mo.' He came here to New Hampshire and it didn't work out. And many other candidates have the same story."

 

 

Carson and his aides accused the Cruz campaign of spreading false rumors that the retiring neurosurgeon was planning to exit the race, and "in some cases asking caucus goers to change their votes" as a result.

"For months, my campaign has survived the lies and dirty tricks from opponents who profess to detest the games of the political class, but in reality are masters at it," Carson said in a statement..

The Republican race also had at least one casualty out of Iowa: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who announced shortly after the vote he is suspending his campaign. Though he won the caucuses in 2008, he could not get a spark this time around.

In his concession speech, Huckabee jokingly cited illness.

"Obviously, the voters are sick of me," he said.

Contributing: Paul Singer