Donald Trump has been called many things, but gracious loser isn't one of them.
He's saying Ted Cruz "stole" the Iowa Caucus by "fraud" and "dirty tricks" and he wants a "new election" or to have Monday's vote "nullified." Ain't gonna happen, and he knows it, but he's using the incident to damage his surging leading rival going into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
Usually such attacks can be ignored, considering Trump's braggadocio and penchant for blaming everyone else but himself for his problems, but this time may be different.
The Donald's got a point about Tricky Ted's tactics. Just before the caucuses, one of Cruz' campaign chairs, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), was tweeting the false rumor that Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. King, who may be more rabidly anti-immigrant than Trump (remember: Mexican "calves the size of cantaloupes" from "hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert"), urged Carson's followers to "go to Cruz." Other campaign aides were spreading the same lie.
Cruz, who'd earlier been criticized for distributing misleading campaign materials, initially called the hoax "fair game" but eventually apologized.
Even the mild-mannered, soft-spoken neurosurgeon from Baltimore was pissed. He called on Cruz to fire those responsible for the malicious rumor. That ain't gonna happen either.
The most despised man in the U.S. Senate had a lot of friends in Iowa, judging by his record victory vote Monday, but not among his presidential rivals and party colleagues. Significantly, not a single fellow GOP senator has endorsed him.
Mike Huckabee, the Iowa winner in 2008, dropped out of the race Monday night but not before expressing his disdain for Cruz. That wouldn't mean much except that Huckabee, despite his poor showing, has a lot of friends among evangelicals, especially in the Bible Belt and his home state of Arkansas, which is one of 14 states voting on Super Tuesday, March 1.
Dropping out Wednesday was former Sen. Rick Santorum, the 2012 Iowa winner who also has a lot of religious conservative followers. He's no fan of Tricky Ted, either.
Sen. Rand Paul dropped out on Wednesday but not before taking a shot at Cruz's dirty tricks. He accused the Texan of sending Iowans a "shady mail piece" threatening voters to publish their voting history. Paul will focus on his reelection campaign in Kentucky. Unless he endorses someone else quickly, many of his libertarian followers could switch to Cruz.
Who does like Cruz? Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who let it be known just before the Iowa Caucus that they'd donated $2,700 each to Cruz last November. That $5,400 is pocket change for the Adelsons, who are expected to dump tens of millions into Republican war chests this year. They're said to be undecided between Cruz and Marco Rubio, who made a surprisingly strong showing in Iowa.