MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE (REUTERS) - Mr Donald Trump, the New York businessman seeking the Republican US presidential nomination, said on Tuesday (Feb 2) that he felt "a tinge" of disappointment after losing to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses.
Mr Cruz bested Mr Trump with 28 per cent of caucusgoers' pledges on Monday compared with the latter's 24 per cent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio came in a close third with 23 per cent.
Asked by a reporter if he felt at all bad about the result, Mr Trump said: "There's a tinge... I probably had a tinge because a poll came out that said I was five points ahead."
In the weeks before the Iowa caucuses, he held leads in almost every statewide and national poll though his dominance in Iowa wobbled after Mr Cruz won a key endorsement from a local evangelical Christian leader.
Mr Trump also said there was a chance his decision to skip a Fox News debate among Republican candidates on Thursday might have hurt him in the caucuses.
Asked before a rally in Milford, New Hampshire, on Tuesday evening if he planned to change his campaign strategy, he told a news conference he felt confident in his methods, but he was adding more town hall-style events.
But any humility was fleeting as Mr Trump went on to say he beat Mr Rubio by getting support from almost 3,000 Iowans - "That's a lot of people" - and that he had gotten a larger percentage of support than any other Republican candidate in history "except for that one number", he added, referring to Mr Cruz's win.
He also said he had not tried very hard to win Iowa. "I didn't devote tremendous time to it," he said. "I didn't expect to do so well."
Mr Trump fielded question after question from reporters about why he thought he lost and whether it made him anxious about primary elections in other states ahead of the Nov 8 presidential election.
When he took the stage before more than a thousand people, Mr Trump's swagger had returned. He criticised the media for focusing more on Mr Rubio's third-place showing than his second, calling journalists "miserable people" and encouraging the crowd to boo them.
Fans interviewed before the rally said his loss did not bother them. "I think he's done pretty well from the start," said Mr Eli Johnson, 33, from nearby Brookline, New Hampshire.
"He did pretty well considering Cruz was praying with everyone at every rally (in Iowa) and they're a really religious state."