HOLLIS, New Hampshire —Ted Cruz was hanging onto third place in the New Hampshire Primary with a slim lead as of 12 a.m. Wednesday morning, trailing Donald Trump and John Kasich. In a tight race that saw Trump emerge as the early winner, but featured a tight battle for second and third place, Cruz welcomed his showing as a victory of sorts.
“The talking heads and Washington insiders were confident that our wave of support would break against the rock of the Granite State,” Cruz told supporters at his rally at the Alpine Grove Banquet Hall Hollis, New Hampshire, just outside of Manchester. “Tonight we proved them wrong.”
Cruz had an encouraging start to the primary season, winning the Iowa Caucus with 27.6 percent of the vote. Expectations going into New Hampshire, however, were far lower. Cruz is popular with more conservative and evangelical voters, while New Hampshire’s Republican base leans more independent.
Cruz’s supporters at the event had tempered their expectations going into the vote. “I’d be happy with third place,” said Paul Gaudette, a building engineer at Oracle in Nashua. “There’s just so many candidates.”
While Trump was declared the winner early in the evening, supporters watched closely as the votes came in, revealing a close race for second place between Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.
Despite his lesser showing, Cruz’s supporters still believe the senator can carry the nomination, and that, as a staunch and stubborn conservative, he is the best man for the job. “I like that other senators hate him. He’s the most conservative,” said Derek Lafleur of Londonderry. “I’d rather have gridlock than compromise. I like that he won’t reach across the aisle.”
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