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N.H. Primary Leaves Some GOP Candidates Pondering Their Status


And the only clear winner from the Republican primary in New Hampshire was Donald Trump. He trounced all his rivals by double digits. And this morning, the rest of the GOP field looks even more scrambled than it did the day after the Iowa caucuses, as NPR's Asma Khalid reports from Manchester.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: New Hampshire prides itself on electing mainstream Republicans, but that's not what happened here last night. The moderates all got creamed. Ohio Governor John Kasich came in a distant second place. Still, for Kasich that was a major triumph. He beat out the rest of the establishment candidates.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Kasich, Kasich, Kasich.

KHALID: Kasich had poured all of his resources into New Hampshire, doing more than 100 town halls. He had said that if he didn't do well here, it was ball game over. And so now he'll get some extra innings.


JOHN KASICH: Maybe, just maybe, we are turning the page on a dark part of American politics because tonight, the light overcame the darkness of negative campaign.

KHALID: Still, the storyline out of New Hampshire isn't so much Kasich's unexpected success but the renewed confused state of the race. It's debatable whether New Hampshire can really catapult Kasich onto the national stage. It might be too late. Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio all have more resources. They finished the night behind Kasich, but bunched together. Cruz claimed that his finish showed he has broad support beyond Iowa.


TED CRUZ: Together, we have done what the pundits and the media said could not be done, and what the Washington establishment desperately hoped would not be done.


KHALID: And Cruz was not the only loser on a victory lap. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also gave an iteration of a victory speech.


JEB BUSH: They said that the race was now a three-person race between two freshmen senators and a reality TV star. And while the reality TV star's still doing well, it looks like you all have reset the race. And for that, I am really grateful.

KHALID: Bush's words were booed over at the Marco Rubio party in Manchester.



KHALID: It was supposed to be a celebration, but the Florida senator was perhaps the biggest loser of the night. Rubio had finished better than expected in Iowa, and his supporters had hoped he could consolidate support behind him here. But many, like David Hodges, were disappointed by how Rubio did in New Hampshire.

DAVID HODGES: Well, he certainly needs to perform a lot better going forward and really make a strong showing. And without getting, you know, more traction soon, it's going to be, you know, an upward climb.

KHALID: When Rubio took the stage, he tried to console his supporters and apologize.


MARCO RUBIO: I know many people are disappointed. I'm disappointed with tonight. I want you to understand. But I want you to understand something. I want you to understand something. Our disappointment tonight is not on you. It's on me. It's on me.

KHALID: Rubio says he dropped the ball.


RUBIO: I did not do well on Saturday night. So listen to this. That will never happen again.

KHALID: This is a new interpretation of Saturday night's debate, when Rubio was attacked for his inexperience and mocked for repeating the same critique multiple times in a row. Rubio's campaign had previously insisted the debate had done him no harm. The irony is the man who pounced on Rubio during the debate may no longer even be in the ring. Governor Chris Christie says he's going home to New Jersey to reassess his campaign.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: We're going to take a deep breath, see what the final results are tonight because that matters...

KHALID: So as the race for the White House turns to South Carolina, the GOP remains a house divided. Asma Khalid, NPR News, Manchester, N.H. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Asma Khalid is a political correspondent for NPR who co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
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