NASHUA, New Hampshire— Donald Trump accused Ted Cruz of fraud in the Iowa caucuses, Rand Paul dropped out of the crowded Republican race and candidates from both major parties focused on New Hampshire before the state’s first-in-the-nation primary next Tuesday.
In attacks posted on his official Twitter account Wednesday, Trump said “either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified” in Monday’s Iowa contest. The billionaire businessman placed second behind the conservative Texas senator.
The tweets were a reversal for Trump, who congratulated Cruz on Monday night and told reporters on Tuesday he was “very happy with what happened in Iowa.”
But a Trump tweet on Wednesday accused the Cruz campaign of telling Iowa voters that Ben Carson was quitting the race so he could steal Carson votes.
Earlier Wednesday, Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told CNN the Texas senator had apologized personally to Carson. Tyler said the Cruz team “as a campaign” never alleged Carson was dropping out.
Carson said the Monday comment amounted to “dirty tricks.”
Asked whether the campaign planned to file a formal complaint, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said: “Wait and see.” Officials from the Iowa Republican Party did not respond immediately to questions about their process for handling complaints like Trump’s.
Meanwhile, Paul said he will now turn his full attention to his Senate re-election campaign in Kentucky. He never caught on with voters beyond the small group of libertarian-leaning Republicans who backed the previous White House bids of his father, Ron Paul.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who placed third among the Republicans in Iowa, said he will try to persuade some of Rand Paul’s supporters to redirect their support to him, despite the stark differences the two have on foreign policy.
Rubio is trying to be the Republican establishment’s preferred alternative to Trump or Cruz.
For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton was seeking to turn a narrow victory in Iowa over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders into some momentum. The former secretary of state and first lady defeated Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent, the closest result in Iowa Democratic caucus history, the state party said.
New Hampshire is the second in a series of state-by-state nominating contests to decide who will be each party’s candidate for president in November.
Polls show Sanders leading by double digits in New Hampshire, which neighbors Vermont.
Trump has been leading the Republican polls in New Hampshire, which has historically favored more moderate candidates than Iowa.
Polls show well over half of Republican voters have yet to make up their minds. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all hope New Hampshire will breathe life into their flagging campaigns.
Candidates are also looking ahead to more diverse South Carolina, which holds the first primary in the South later this month.
Associated Press writers Kathleen Hennessey, Lisa Lerer, Ken Thomas, Kathleen Ronayne, Steve Peoples in New Hampshire, and Bill Barrow in South Carolina contributed to this report.
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