Washington, Feb 2: Texas Senator Ted Cruz handed a shock defeat to controversial presidential contender Donald Trump in the Iowa Republican caucuses while in the Democratic camp both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders claimed victories as the race for the White House began today.
As the results of the Iowa Caucuses came in, the crowded Republican presidential race appeared to be narrowing down to a three-cornered contest with Marco Rubio coming a close third behind Cruz and Trump. With almost all the votes counted, Cruz bagged 28 per cent of the total votes with a lead of over 5,500 votes against Trump's 24 per cent. Rubio was third with 23 per cent.
Neurosurgeon-turned-politician Ben Carson was a distant fourth with nine per cent. On the Democratic side, it was too close to call between former Secretary of State Clinton and Sanders. Both of them split almost 50 per cent of the votes each. Clinton, who is aiming to become the first woman president of the US, got 49.8 per cent of votes, with nearly 90 per cent of the votes counted.
Sanders, who was trailing behind Clinton by more than 20 points several weeks ago, polled 49.5 per cent of the votes. Sanders, who believes in Democratic socialism, declared his victory.
In his first reaction after coming second in Iowa, Trump said, "We finished second. I am just honoured. I want to congratulate Ted (Cruz)," Trump said at a campaign event after the results were out. The real estate tycoon said he never expected such a second place finish in Iowa when he started his campaign on June 16, 2015. Referring to the next primary destinations of New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump exuded confidence over winning the party's nomination.
"We will go on to win the Republican nomination," Trump said and claimed that he will beat either of the potential Democratic nominee -- Clinton or Sanders. From Iowa, the race to the White House now moves to New Hampshire where the primaries are scheduled for February 9 and then to South Carolina.
In both the states, Trump is leading by a huge margin, according to latest opinion polls. Meanwhile, the third Democratic party presidential aspirant Martin O'Malley announced to suspend his campaign. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee announced to suspend his campaign. Both Rubio and Trump praised him with the objective of gaining his support.