Republican presidential campaign turns nastier; field narrows

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Rick Santorum Drops Out of Presidential Race

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Campaigning for the Republican nomination at November's U.S. presidential election took a nasty turn on Wednesday with billionaire businessman Donald Trump accusing rival Ted Cruz of fraud as the field of candidates narrowed ahead of next week's New Hampshire primary.

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Rand Paul, a U.S. senator from Kentucky with a libertarian philosophy, pulled out of the Republican race and CNN said conservative Rick Santorum also was quitting.

Both candidates did poorly in Monday's Iowa caucuses, which were dominated by conservative Cruz's defeat of Trump, who has courted controversy by urging a ban on Muslims entering the United States and branding Mexican immigrants as criminals.

The real estate mogul on Wednesday accused Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, on Twitter of stealing his victory in Iowa. Cruz's team hit back by telling Trump to seek help for addiction to the social media site.

The two men are going head-to-head for voters in New Hampshire, where Cruz's evangelical Christian credentials will not be as helpful as they were in Iowa. Trump holds big leads in opinion polls of Republicans in New Hampshire.

See photos of Rick Santorum on the campaign trail:

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Rick Santorum on the campaign trail
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Republican presidential campaign turns nastier; field narrows
GARNER, IOWA - AUGUST 24: Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum continues to campaign through Iowa on August 24, 2015 in Garner, Iowa. Here he stops at Stellar Industries for an informal 'town hall' style meeting with locals and employee's. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, waits to speak at a news conference on the immigration system at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Santorum discussed the need to secure the border, reform visa programs, reduce current legal immigration levels by 25% and create a workable program for America's agricultural sector. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - August 15: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum mans the grill as he cooks pork chops at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 15, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, holds a glass of beer he poured during a campaign stop at Confluence Brewing Co. in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Santorum will speak at Iowa State Fair's politics soapbox on Aug. 15. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Seven candidates are debating before the top 10 candidates face off during prime time. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential hopeful and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is seen at the Quicken Loans Arena ahead of the Republican presidential primary debate on August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Republican candidate for USA President and former Senator from Pennsylvania , Rick Santorum visits 'Cavuto: Coast To Coast' at FOX Studios on July 22, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
AMES, IA - JULY 18: Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum fields questions at The Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium on July 18, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. According to the organizers, the purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate conservatives. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) speaks during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America to discuss politics and address current events. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during an appearance on Bloomberg Television's 'With All Due Respect' in New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Santorum, who opposes a path to legalization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., stopped short last week of calling for their deportation. Photographer: Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CABOT, PA - MAY 27: Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for president at Penn United Technologies May 27, 2015 in Cabot, Pennsylvania, This is the second run for Santorum, who finished runner-up in 2012 to nominee Mitt Romney. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
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Former reality TV star Trump called for the nullification of Cruz's Iowa victory or a new vote in the state, which holds the first nominating contest in the presidential election.

"Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it," Trump said in a series of tweets. "That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!"

Trump referred to an email that Cruz's campaign sent on Monday that implied another Republican candidate, Ben Carson, was about to drop out of the race and that his Iowa backers should be urged to vote for the Texan instead. Cruz later apologized for the email.

See more from Iowa's big night:

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Iowa Caucus candidates speaking, Clinton and Cruz celebrate
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Republican presidential campaign turns nastier; field narrows
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a caucus night rally as his wife Heidi listens Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. Cruz sealed a victory in the Republican Iowa caucuses, winning on the strength of his relentless campaigning and support from his party's diehard conservatives. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by former President Bill Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton speaks at her caucus night rally at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, and his wave Jane acknowledge the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump blows a kiss after speaking at his caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and his family pray during opening of a caucus site, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 in Clive, Iowa. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, left, embraces her husband Bill Clinton, former U.S. President, center, as their daughter Chelsea Clinton looks on during a caucus night party in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas won the Iowa Republican caucuses in an upset over billionaire Donald Trump, while Clinton was clinging to the narrowest edge over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomerg
Supporters cheer for Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during a caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, right, blows a kiss as he walks off stage with his family during a caucus watch party in West Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Republicans looking for a candidate who could stop Trump found one on Monday evening, as U.S. Senator Ted Cruz emerged from a brutal campaign with a victory in the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles during a caucus night rally on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 01: Supporters cheer during Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) caucus night party February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were locked in a tight race with caucus goers late in the evening. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., lifts his son Anthony, 10, at a caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, greets supporters after being declared the winner of the Iowa caucus during his campaign's caucus night celebration at the Elwell Center on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Cruz won the Iowa Republican caucuses in an upset over billionaire Donald Trump, while Democrat Hillary Clinton was clinging to the narrowest edge over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a caucus night party in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas won the Iowa Republican caucuses in an upset over billionaire Donald Trump, while Clinton was clinging to the narrowest edge over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomerg
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, from left, former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea acknowledge supporters during a caucus night party at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 1 : Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stands on stage with his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders during his Caucus night event at the at the Holiday Inn February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders was in a virtual tie with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late in caucus polling. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a caucus night party, on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Josh Kent celebrates at Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., acknowledges the audience at a caucus night celebration, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses his supporters after finishing second in the Iowa Caucus, in West Des Moines, Iowa, February 1, 2016. Republican Senator Ted Cruz has won the Iowa caucuses -- the first vote in the US presidential race -- in a tight contest with frontrunner Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio, US media projections showed. / AFP / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 01: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets supporters during her caucus night event in the Olmsted Center at Drake University on February 1, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton is competing with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Iowa Democratic caucus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., poses for photos during a caucus night rally on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Jane Sanders and her husband Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., watch caucus returns in his hotel room, on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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"TWITTER ADDICTION"

Trump also accused Cruz's team on Twitter of sending out a mailer designed to look like an official electoral document to scare Iowa voters into turning out at the caucuses.

The Cruz campaign said Trump was just clamoring for attention after the senator came from behind in the polls to beat him on Monday.

"Reality just hit the reality star - he lost Iowa and now nobody is talking about him, so he's popping off on Twitter," Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said in a statement. "There are support groups for Twitter addiction, perhaps he should find his local chapter."

A Tea Party fiscal hawk, Cruz won support in Iowa from much of the same conservative Christian constituency that helped Santorum to victory in the Iowa caucuses during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, has failed to take off in this campaign. CNN, citing unidentified sources, said he planned to suspend his run for the White House later on Wednesday and would endorse another candidate.

Earlier on Wednesday, Paul became the second Republican to drop out of the race since the Iowa caucuses, behind former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

"It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House," he said in a statement. "Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty."

Polls in recent days had shown him with about 2 percent support heading into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. It is not clear which candidate might attract Paul's supporters but Ohio Governor John Kasich said he favored some of Paul's positions, such as his criticism of government electronic surveillance and U.S. intervention abroad.

"If somebody were to ask me about some of the issues on surveillance, I would say that, you know, I think Rand Paul's had some good things to say about it," he told NBC News. "You know, when it comes to the use of military force, I don't want to be policeman of the world."

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