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GOP Presidential Candidates Flood New Hampshire Ahead Of Primary


New Hampshire is now the focal point of the 2016 presidential campaign. After last night's Iowa caucuses, candidates from both parties headed east, including the Republican winner in Iowa, Ted Cruz.


TED CRUZ: So what a victory last night.


CORNISH: NPR political reporter Scott Detrow has been following the Texas senator and other Republican candidates in New Hampshire, and he joins us now. Hey there, Scott.


CORNISH: OK, so we're talking about two very different states, very different electorates. What's the sense of whether Ted Cruz's momentum will carry over into New Hampshire?

DETROW: That's right. These are very different states. You know, social conservatives are the key bloc in Iowa. But here in New Hampshire with Independent voters in the mix, more moderate candidates have tended to do well in recent years. In fact, on the Republican side, you have to go all the way back to 1976 to find a candidate that won both Iowa and New Hampshire when it was a contested primary year.

Still, the Cruz campaign has been here a lot. They're going to be here this week. They feel like they can do well. We heard a lot about how well Ted Cruz did with evangelical voters in Iowa, but libertarianism is also an issue that he's talked about in his Senate career and at points on the campaign trail as well. I think we can expect him to talk about that here in New Hampshire. There's a big libertarian presence here. I did notice that in the videos the campaign was playing before an event today, libertarian themes came up a lot, and they featured a lot of voters who were talking about how they used to support Ron Paul but now they're backing Ted Cruz.

CORNISH: All right so different mix of the electorate there, but there's also a number of candidates on the Republican side vying to be the so-called establishment choice out of New Hampshire. What are you seeing on the ground?

DETROW: Yeah. You have several governors who've all but banked their entire campaign on New Hampshire. Ohio Governor John Kasich basically skipped Iowa altogether, and then both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush - they were here on the ground in New Hampshire before Iowans were even caucusing last night. They were ready to move on.

The problem that all these governors have is that they're all vying for that kind of more moderate vote, the establishment support. But now Marco Rubio, after doing so well in Iowa, nearly catching Donald Trump, is coming in with a lot of momentum, so they all have to be worried that he's going to kind of steel some of their support. And that's why you're already seeing pretty harsh attacks on Rubio from both Bush and Christie.


JEB BUSH: In the 200 candidates that are likely to emerge in Iowa are two people that are backbenchers, that have never done anything of consequence in their lives. They're gifted beyond belief. They can give a great speech.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: We know who the boy in the bubble is up here who never answers your questions, who's constantly scripted and controlled because he can't answer your questions.

DETROW: You know, this is a senator, a first-term senator who speaks very well but doesn't do well off script and doesn't have executive experience. These are all critiques that we've heard Republicans using against Barack Obama for eight years now, and now they're focusing them on Marco Rubio.

CORNISH: Finally, Donald Trump - his entire campaign is built around the idea of winning. Last night, he was not the winner (laughter). What's the thinking on how this Iowa loss could affect Trump on the campaign trail, especially in New Hampshire?

DETROW: I think a lot of people are very curious about this, especially after Trump's speech in Iowa last night, which was very brief and notably kind of humble for Donald Trump. We got our first sense of how things are going to go today on Twitter, where so much of the Trump campaign has played out.

Donald Trump had a series of tweets today saying the media hasn't been fair to him, that second place was better than initial expectations were for Trump in Iowa. Of course, that's kind of hard to square with the way he campaigned in Iowa, talking about how he was ahead in a lot of the polls that did show him up by such large margins. It is important to note that Donald Trump is still a candidate to beat here in New Hampshire. He's had a wide lead. He's had it for months. And he did pick up an endorsement today - Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator. Of course, Scott Brown did run for senate here in New Hampshire as well and lost.

CORNISH: That NPR's Scott Detrow in New Hampshire. Scott, thanks so much.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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