(POLITICO) MANCHESTER N.H. – For the establishment wing of the Republican Party, the picture just keeps getting bleaker.
Far from winnowing the crowded field of mainstream GOP contenders and allowing it to unify around a standard-bearer, New Hampshire thrust it further into chaos. Marco Rubio, after taking steps last week to coalesce the backing of the party’s upper echelons, saw his momentum halted in the state, which punished him for delivering an overly scripted debate performance.
The establishment lane is now more crowded than ever, with Rubio, Jeb Bush, and New Hampshire runner-up John Kasich heading for a brutal fight in South Carolina – a state known for its rough-and-tumble political culture. Chris Christie, who was also competing for establishment support, is reassessing his campaign’s future.
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