Cruz, Bush and Rubio finish within a percentage point of each other, behind Trump and Kasich
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CFP) — The three Southern Republicans in the presidential race all bunched together in a battle for third place in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas came in at 11.6 percent in the February 9 vote, while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was at 11.1 percent and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida at 10.5 percent, with just 3,200 votes separating Cruz and Rubio.
New Hampshire was redemption for Bush, who was given up for dead after a weak showing in the Iowa caucus. But is was a bad night for Rubio, who could not maintain his momentum from a third-place finish in Iowa after a rough debate performance on the Saturday before the primary.
“Our disappointment tonight is not on you. It’s on me,” Rubio told supporters in Manchester. “I did not do well on Saturday night. So listen to this–that will never happen again.”
Bush–who entered the race as the favorite, only to see his campaign eclipsed by Trump’s surge–was clearly jubilant after a New Hampshire result that put him back in the race as it heads to South Carolina, a state where his family has deep political roots.
“They said that the race was now a three-person race between two freshman senators and a reality TV star,” Bush said in a speech to supporters in Manchester, referring to Trump, Cruz and Rubio. “And while the reality TV star is still doing well, it looks like you all have reset the race.”
But Cruz, who won Iowa but wasn’t expected to do well in New Hampshire, claimed a moral victory after “a result that all of us were told was impossible.”
“Once again the talking heads and the Washington insiders were confident that our wave of support would break against the rock of the Granite State,” he told supporters in Hollis. “Tonight, the men and women here and across this great state proved them wrong.”
After Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump leads in the delegate count with 17, followed by Cruz, 10; Rubio, 7; Bush, 3; and Kasich, 3. A candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination.
The next contest for Republicans is the South Carolina primary on February 20.