Donald Trump lets loose on Cruz and Rubio following disappointing finish in Iowa

Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign event on February 2, 2016 in Milford, Iowa.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign event on February 2, 2016 in Milford, Iowa.  (2016 Getty Images)

If you thought Donald Trump's speech after finishing second in the Iowa Caucus was a sign of a humbler, more reserved candidate, think again.

After his almost unheard-of 15-hour hiatus from social media and the airwaves, the Donald Trump that the American electorate has grown to either love or hate returned with a vengeance — accusing Iowa caucus winner Ted Cruz of "illegally" stealing the election and going on national television to bemoan the praise heaped on Marco Rubio for his third-place finish in the Hawkeye state.

Trump said, in a tweet that was subsequently deleted, that Cruz committed fraud and called on Iowa to hold a reelection.

"Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he illegally stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong any [sic] why he got more votes than anticipated. Bad!" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, before it disappeared from social media within minutes of posting.

The billionaire businessman-turned-presidential candidate tweeted out another post that corrected his typo and removed the word "illegally."

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Trump tweeted: "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!"

"Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified," he also tweeted on Wednesday.

The candidate then fired off a barrage of tweets in which he – among things – lashed out at the Cruz campaign for sending out a press release on caucus night saying that fellow candidate Ben Carson was taking time off the campaign and to not caucus for him.

"Many people voted for Cruz over Carson because of this Cruz fraud," Trump tweeted. "Also, Cruz sent out a VOTER VIOLATION certificate to thousands of voters."

Cruz's campaign responded to Trump's Twitter blast by calling him a sore loser and mocking his rants on social media.

"Reality just hit the reality star — he lost Iowa and now nobody is talking about him, so he's popping off on Twitter," Cruz communications director Rick Tyler told Politico. "There are support groups for Twitter addiction, perhaps he should find his local chapter."

Rubio, who finished a close third behind Trump in Monday night's caucus, wasn't spared from the renewed wrath of Trump.

During an appearance on a morning political talk show, Trump lambasted political pundits for the praise Rubio has received after Iowa.

"I said to myself, 'That's strange…In fact, you would have thought he had won. I came in second, he came in third, and his is a tremendous victory and mine's not," Trump said. "It's interesting that Marco came in third place and it's one of the great victories in the history of politics. They said, 'No, no, his is, but yours isn't.' And I said, 'Oh, that's wonderful.' I didn't understand that."

Trump's renewed fervor comes after the bombastic candidate appeared more somber and conciliatory during his final speech in Iowa.

"We finished second, and I want to tell you something, I'm just honored. I'm really honored. And I want to congratulate Ted, and I want to congratulate all of the incredible candidates," he said.

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