Trump accuses Cruz of fraud in Iowa caucuses; Rand Paul out

GOFFSTOWN, New Hampshire (AP) — Donald Trump and Ted Cruz cast aside any veneer of kindness on Wednesday to trade insults and accusations in a show of hardball politics that demonstrated the stakes for both men in the New Hampshire primary six days away.

The billionaire mogul charged the Texas senator with "fraud" and called for a do-over of the Iowa caucuses. That's where Cruz's unexpected victory exposed weaknesses in Trump's unorthodox, personality-driven bid for the White House.

Cruz shot back with his fiercest attack yet on the man who has dominated opinion polls in New Hampshire, suggesting the reality star doesn't like the reality of losing. He's having a "Trumper-tantrum," Cruz told reporters. "He's losing it."

The back-and-forth between two candidates who once made of a show of their rapport underscored the shifting dynamic in a Republican race rattled by the Iowa results.

Cruz's campaign staff popped champagne on the flight to New Hampshire early Tuesday, proud of stealthily out-organizing the political novice. Trump appeared to take the loss graciously Monday night, but by Wednesday morning he had turned.

"Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it," Trump tweeted, and his campaign accused Cruz of dirty tricks in telling Ben Carson's supporters their man was dropping out and they should turn to the Texan.

For all their bluster, the top two were keeping a wary eye on Iowa's surprisingly strong No. 3.

In a blitz of new Hampshire campaigning, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was casting himself as the sole "unifier" in a deeply fractured party and the man best positioned to beat a Democrat in November.

"When I am our nominee I can bring this party together," Rubio told more than 300 people at an athletic complex in Bow. "We cannot win if we are divided against each other."

For Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Hampshire increasingly looked like a do-or-die proposition: Show some momentum or pack it up. They hustled across the state trying to prevent this from becoming a three-man race.

Rand Paul announced he was dropping out, and that put a new crop of voters up for grabs for the other contenders. The Kentucky senator had tried to improve the Republican's popularity among younger voters and minorities. But his appeal never broadened much beyond the libertarian-leaning Republicans who backed the previous White House bids of his father, Rep. Ron Paul.

Later in the day, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced he had ended his bid for the White House and would support Rubio. His longshot status kept him off the main stage in all of the presidential debates and his campaign never gained enough steam to put him up against heavyweight contenders like Trump and Cruz.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tussled over each other's progressive bona fides. The Clinton campaign pushed back against Sanders' assertion that the former secretary of state was a progressive on "some days."

"We've been fighting the progressive fight and getting results for people for years," Clinton said at rally in Derry.

The Democrats are to appear at a CNN town hall Wednesday night.

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Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont, Sergio Bustos, Kathleen Ronayne, Jill Colvin, Holly Ramer, Julie Pace and Bill Barrow contributed to this report.

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