MANCHESTER, N.H. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out of the 2024 Republican presidential race and endorsed former President Trump two days before the New Hampshire primary.
The Florida governor announced his decision to suspend his campaign in a social media video on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday afternoon.
“If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it,” DeSantis said in the video. “But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory.”
“Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign,” said DeSantis, who was a distant third in the single digits in the latest polls in New Hampshire.
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DeSantis highlighted that he’s had “disagreements” with Trump but believes that the former president is a better leader than Biden.
“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis continued. “They watched his presidency get stymied by relentless resistance, and they see Democrats using lawfare this day to attack him.”
DeSantis noted that “I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge.”
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Trump, who along with his allies spent months fiercely attacking DeSantis, told Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman that he was “very honored to have his endorsement.”
“I look forward to working together with him to beat Joe Biden, who is the worst and most corrupt president in the history of our country,” Trump said.
And Trump, who for months had used the derogatory nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious” on the campaign trail, said he wouldn’t be using that nickname going forward.
“No, that name has been officially retired,” Trump told Fox News Digital.
The Florida governor also took a chance to criticize former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is a former two-term South Carolina governor and the other remaining major contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
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DeSantis said he endorsed Trump “because we can’t go back to the old Republican Guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”
“The days of putting Americans last, of kowtowing to large corporations, of caving to woke ideology are over,” he added.
Haley, speaking at a campaign stop in Seabrook, New Hampshire, told the crowd, “I want to say to Ron, he ran a great race. He’s been a good governor. And we wish him well. Having said that, it’s now one fella and one lady left.”
And in a statement, Haley noted that “so far, only one state has voted. Half of its votes went to Donald Trump, and half did not. We’re not a country of coronations. Voters deserve a say in whether we go down the road of Trump and Biden again, or we go down a new conservative road. New Hampshire voters will have their say on Tuesday. When I’m president, I will do everything in my power to show them they made the right decision.”
A signal that the end was near came on Saturday night when DeSantis canceled two major Sunday talk show appearances. His campaign said at the time that the interviews were canceled to allow the governor to travel back to New Hampshire from South Carolina, where he was stumping on Saturday.
The DeSantis video was posted on Sunday afternoon, a couple of hours before the governor was scheduled to hold a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire. That stop was canceled and there was no word on whether DeSantis would fly to New Hampshire to join Trump ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
DeSantis, 45, finished in second place in last week’s Iowa caucuses with 20.1% of the vote, but he only narrowly defeated Haley and came in 30 points behind Trump, who achieved a record-breaking and commanding victory in the low-turnout Hawkeye State contest.
DeSantis’ departure from the race comes after his campaign went “all in” on Iowa, betting that a strong ground game, events, visits to all 99 counties and endorsements from top Iowa Republicans would propel him to a strong showing leading into elections in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
But his distant second-place finish, while it slightly exceeded expectations in the final polls, was seen as a major disappointment, considering all the time and resources he spent in Iowa.
The Democratic National Committee, taking aim at the Florida governor, charged that “Ron DeSantis pinned his entire campaign’s hopes on the same extreme MAGA agenda that both Donald Trump and Nikki Haley are still running on, and now he is the latest member of the GOP to fall in line behind the original MAGA brand.”
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DeSantis, who was convincingly re-elected to a second term as Florida governor 14 months ago, was once the clear alternative to Trump in the Republican White House race. Multiple polls showed DeSantis leading Trump early last year before he entered the race, but he faltered out of the gate with a glitch-riddled social media campaign announcement.
The governor was backed by the big-spending aligned super PAC Never Back Down. However, after a series of campaign setbacks over the summer and autumn, and after getting hammered by constant attacks and negative ads from Trump and his allies, DeSantis saw his support in the polls erode.
Dan Eberhart, a top DeSantis donor, bundler and surrogate, told Fox News Digital that “Ron DeSantis ran into a bump and the bump was named Trump.”
“This wasn’t about money. The campaign insists they had enough money to get to Super Tuesday. I think this was about data and polling and Gov. DeSantis being realistic about whether or not Trump was beatable,” Eberhart said.
And he added that “more importantly, I think this was about 2028, and DeSantis doesn’t want [a] 5 to 8% showing in New Hampshire on his record. Let’s face it, he’s the Republican voters’ de facto second choice, and he’s Trump voters’ second choice, and so he’s decided to get out and govern Florida.”
Fox News’ Bryan LLenas, Brooke Singman, Jamie Vera and Monica Oroz contributed to this report.
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