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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio's poor New Hampshire finish blunts his momentum

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio waves to supporters Tuesday night after his speech at his Republican primary night rally at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, N.H.

[Associated Press]

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio waves to supporters Tuesday night after his speech at his Republican primary night rally at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, N.H.

9

February

Rick Santorum started it. Chris Christie kicked the door wide open. And the voters of New Hampshire finished the job.

Tuesday was a momentum killer for Marco Rubio, who finished fifth behind Jeb Bush and others. Rubio will move on to South Carolina but no longer has a claim as the establishment candidate to beat. Bush has a strong footing in South Carolina and he and his team are suddenly energized, eager to dispatch Rubio for good.

Rubio tried to smile through the aftermath of his robotic answers at the Saturday debate. He defended his performance and doubled down on his message so hard that he had another scripted moment Monday evening in Nashua.

But Tuesday night he could no longer spin. 

“Our disappointment is not on you. It’s on me," he said. "I did not do well on Saturday night so listen to this: that will never happen again."

Rubio's camp noted the tens of millions Bush spent and how he once predicted victory in New Hampshire. Below, Rubo's speech:

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 11:18am]

    

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