He “could have been a little better, could have been one notch better,” Donald Trump conceded Tuesday, but insisted that “most people say I did a great job.”
Trump’s news conference in New Hampshire on Tuesday evening, his first session with reporters since finishing second in the Iowa caucuses to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, was Trumpian, in many respects, with frequent tangents and references to his own success and how it should be judged.
But a key difference was notable: his delivery was subdued. The candidate, who constantly bills himself as the gold standard of winning, seemed annoyed that others were now taking shots at him for falling to second place.
“People didn’t talk about my second place. They didn’t talk about it as positively as they should have,” he said, sounding frustrated with the attention given to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
“And yet with Marco, who was more than 2,000 votes behind me -- that’s a lot of votes, by the way -- they said, 'Oh, he’s surging, he’s surging.' So I don’t know why is the third place doing well.”
Trump, who received the endorsement of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, suggested that his decision to boycott a Fox News debate may have played a role.
“I think some people were disappointed that I didn’t go in the debate,” he said. “If I had it to do again, I’d do the exact same thing.”
Trump said that his event for veterans raised $6 million, making it worth a second-place finish if that was the cost. He also took a shot at Cruz, some of whose supporters had spread a rumor on caucus day that Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, was dropping out.
“That was a disgrace,” Trump said.
Cruz has apologized for the incident.
Trump insisted he was not feeling pressure to win New Hampshire's primary next Tuesday. He has been heavily favored in polls in the state for months. But perhaps learning a lesson about the expectations game, he took the step -- unusual for him -- of downplaying his chances.
“I’d love to finish first,” he said. But if he doesn’t win there, he insisted, “it would still not be horrible because you’re competing against a lot of very talented people that have been politicians all their lives. I’ve been a politician for six months.”