MANCHESTER, N.H.—A dispute between the Cruz and Rubio campaigns over who was expected to win Iowa has unfolded ahead of the New Hampshire primary. The Cruz campaign believes it pulled off a Hail Mary win in the Hawkeye State after polls showed New York billionaire Donald Trump ahead of the Texas senator by at least four percent.
Although [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] won the Republican Iowa caucus, Florida Sen. [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] was heaped praise for his unexpected third place finish after Trump, a response that surprised some in the Cruz camp.
“The first caucus we won and the expectations were that Trump was going to win and Cruz did win and so that’s the story,” former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith, a Cruz ally, told The Daily Caller on Monday. “That he won Iowa not that somebody else finished third, but that he won and increased expectations,” Smith added.
“I just want to know, say if Ted Cruz comes in a strong third place, at the worse, that’ll be the worse we do [in New Hampshire],” Steve Lonegan, another surrogate of the Cruz campaign, told TheDC, “Is Fox News and the other media outlets going to slobber all over his third place like they slobbered all over Marco Rubio’s third place in Iowa.”
Rubio spokesman Todd Harris responded to the charges claiming the Cruz camp is just “complaining” about how Rubio finished in Iowa compared to Cruz.
“It’s another distraction,” Harris said on Sunday night in the spin room following ABC’s GOP debate.
“Ted Cruz had the greatest ground game we’ve ever seen in Iowa. Everyone expected him to win and he came in first in Iowa,” he said. “Marco exceeded expectations in Iowa. Now we’re in a situation where we’re coming into New Hampshire with a ton of momentum hoping to finish in second place and we’re good with where we are in the campaign right now.”
Harris explained, “If the Cruz Campaign is upset that no one was surprised by their win, then maybe they shouldn’t have spent all of November and all of December and all of January telling anyone who would listen they were going to win Iowa.”
“And what did they do? They did exactly what they said they were going to do,” He added. “What did Marco do? He closed super strong at the end and exceeded all expectations.”