With his Iowa caucus victory a week and a day behind him, Ted Cruz was looking to New Hampshire voters to help buoy his outsider bid for the presidency amid an exceedingly chippy campaign.
Though Cruz could not surmount Donald Trump to win the state’s primary, early returns have him virtually tied for third place with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio — and a few points behind John Kasich for second place.
The nomination campaign now moves toward southern states where his appeal to evangelical voters could find a receptive audience.
Cruz and Trump had traded insults in recent days, with the New York businessman using a vulgar term to refer to Cruz, and the Texas senator responding by questioning Trump’s bona fides.
On Tuesday, Cruz said Trump engaged in profanity because he doesn’t want to talk about his positions.
“Part of the reason that Donald engages in insults is because he can’t discuss the substance,” Cruz said as he greeted voters at Manchester’s Red Arrow Diner. “He can’t defend his record.”
Cruz argued that Trump’s health care record suggests that his policies would lead to a system like Obamacare, something Trump has denied. Trump has described Cruz as “the worst kind of Washington insider, who just can’t be trusted.”
Cruz’s other rivals also sought to stop any momentum he might have gathered after his win in Iowa, where he made a strong case for the support of that state’s religious voter base.
Though Cruz did not perform as well in New Hampshire polls as he did in Iowa, he sought to enhance his appeal by spending time with voters there in the wake of the caucus win.
He attracted his share of enthusiastic supporters. As the candidate went on a three-county tour Monday, one of his supporters followed him for a time while driving a truck with “Cruz Missile’ painted on the back.