MILFORD, N.H. — Republican Donald Trump blasted the media for coronating Marco Rubio — who finished third in Monday’s Iowa caucuses — and slammed Ted Cruz’s campaign tactics during a rally one week before the New Hampshire primaries.

“The headline is ‘Winner of the night — Marco Rubio! Trump humiliated!’ ” the billionaire told a crowd of thousands gathered on tennis courts at an athletic facility and more in a giant overflow room. “How come the person that comes in third, on many of the networks is being covered like it’s one of the great victories in the history of politics in the country?”

Trump, who finished behind Cruz but edged out Rubio in the caucuses, in many ways created the high expectations for himself, beginning most of his rallies over the last few months by bragging about his huge leads in polls — something he did not do here last night.

But Trump did assail Cruz for trying to pick up Ben Carson supporters during the caucuses amid false reports he had suspended his campaign and for controversial “voting violation” mailings targeting Iowans.

And he continued to raise the prospect that Democratic lawsuits over Cruz’s citizenship will sink his campaign.

“If he gets the nomination, they’re going to sue his ass off,” Trump told the crowd.

He also conceded that skipping the last debate before the caucuses may have hurt him.

“I think some of the people were disappointed I didn’t do the debate,” said Trump. “If I had to do it again, I would have done the exact same thing. You know why? Because I raised $6 million for the vets.”

Trump hits the Granite State once again with high expectations — he’s leading in the latest Franklin Pierce University Boston Herald Poll by 25 points. But it’s still not clear how the second-place showing in Iowa will affect his standing both in the Granite State and nationally.

Last night, he tried to downplay expectations, dismissing the idea he’s under any pressure to win New Hampshire outright and denying that a second-place finish would be catastrophic.

“I’d love to finish first here,” said Trump. “It still would not be horrible (to finish second), because you’re competing against a lot of talented people. They’ve been politicians their entire lives. I’ve been a politician for six months.”

Meanwhile, former Bay State U.S. Sen. Scott Brown endorsed Trump just before the rally last night, calling him a negotiator who can unite the nation’s problem-plagued capital.

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(c)2016 the Boston Herald

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