DES MOINES, Iowa. — A deflated Donald Trump hits the Granite State today trying to breathe new life into his campaign after his much-hyped presidential hopes fell flat in the Hawkeye State.
Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz toppled Trump across most of the 1,861 Iowa precincts, shattering the New York real estate tycoon’s aura of invincibility and sending him scrambling to prove his bluster is more than hot air in New Hampshire.
Cruz’s campaign said his conservative, religion-based campaigning has been connecting in New Hampshire.
“The reason it’s working is there is a number of true conservatives and evangelicals who walk their faith every day and we’ve appealed to those people,” said Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler.
“We have not changed our message. We have the same message.”
Yet the true winner of the hotly contested caucuses may have been Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, whose unexpectedly strong showing allows him to claim the Republican establishment mantle.
Rubio, who was only 1 percent behind Trump, focused his firepower on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders instead of his GOP rivals in a line of attack that he is likely to maintain if he proceeds to the general election.
“In America there are only two ways forward for us now, we can either be greater than we ever been, or we can be a great nation in decline,” Rubio said, adding that Clinton is “disqualified from being president” because the former secretary of state had top secret information on her personal email server.
Even before last night’s results rolled in, national Republicans — who have expressed fears about both Trump and Cruz — started to pressure other low-polling presidential candidates behind the scenes to drop out of the race and coalesce around Rubio.
“You have Trump and Cruz who are the ‘Just say no’ candidates,” said U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who supports Rubio.
“It’s very much breaking towards Rubio because of his likability, because of the high trust factor and because of his accomplishments.”
Issa said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who left Iowa early because of abysmal returns, should drop out to funnel both funding and institutional organization into Rubio’s presidential quest.
“When it comes to Jeb Bush and others, they are going to hope that there is some spark of life in New Hampshire,” said Issa. “I don’t see it. I don’t expect it and yes I think that Jeb Bush, if he performs the way he’s polling, definitely should look at leaving after New Hampshire.”
(c)2016 the Boston Herald
Visit the Boston Herald at www.bostonherald.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.