Rubio emerges as strong contender

Marco-Rubio-Reuters U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio waves goodbye following a campaign rally at the Globe Manufacturing plant in Pittsfield, New Hampshire | Reuters

Projected as an "establishment candidate" after his strong showing at the Iowa Caucuses, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been boosted in his quest with three Republican presidential aspirants dropping out of the White House race and one of them announcing support for him.

As the results of the Iowa Caucuses came in, the crowded Republican presidential race appeared to be narrowing down to a three-cornered contest with Rubio coming a close third behind Texas Senator Ted Cruz and controversial presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

After the caucuses, Republican presidential aspirants Rand Paul and Rick Santorum dropped out of the GOP presidential race on Wednesday.

"He (Rubio) is a tremendously gifted young man and he is a leader. He is a born leader, and someone I feel a lot of confidence in that he is the new generation. And someone that can bring this country together," Santorum said while announcing to drop out of the presidential race following his poor performance in the Iowa Caucuses and extending support to Rubio.

Mike Huckabee had announced to withdraw from the race on Monday itself just after the Iowa results.

Political pundits say Rubio's campaign is now gaining momentum and has got a big boost with Santorum's endorsement.

Nine candidates now remain in the Republican presidential nominee race—Rubio, Trump, Cruz, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former HP chief Carly Fiorina, top American neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.

However, the race now appears to have narrowed down to Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush and Christie.

In the Democratic Party, it is a direct contest between the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile, the race for the White House entered New Hampshire with presidential aspirants from both the Republican and Democratic parties reaching this crucial state ahead of the February 9 primaries.

Rubio said Santorum's endorsement means a lot to his campaign.

"I have tremendous respect for Rick...He has a great intent for blue-collar Americans. We need to grow our party among Americans who work hard with their hands every day and make a living to move their families forward. And Rick, I think, has a message for them that is phenomenal," he said.

Sanders's campaign announced that he would be addressing more than a dozen rallies in the next few days.

"Bernie has announced that for the remainder of the campaign in New Hampshire he will hold more than a dozen rallies and meetings to meet with voters all across the state," his campaign said.

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