NEW YORK (AFP) - Donald Trump on Wednesday accused rival Ted Cruz in the Republican race for the White House of stealing victory in the Iowa caucuses, demanding a re-vote or his win nullified.
He made the sensational accusations on Twitter, telling his nearly six million followers that the first-time senator from Texas had committed fraud and lied to voters.
"Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!" Trump wrote.
He criticised Cruz for putting out a statement saying that a fellow candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, was quitting the race, and accused Cruz of lying to thousands of voters about Trump's policies.
"Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified," Trump wrote.
The accusations, interpreted by critics as an attempt to hog the media spotlight, come in stark contrast to his gracious concession speech in Iowa on Monday, saying he was "honored" to finish second.
His tally - just above 24 per cent, for second place after Cruz and just ahead of Senator Marco Rubio - in the first vote after months of wall-to-wall media coverage raises serious questions about whether showmanship has a winning strategy.
A second hiccup, at the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday, would spell political disaster for the billionaire.
Cruz won 27.7 per cent of the vote in the Republican caucus in Iowa, staking his claim to be the new standard bearer of the right.