DeSantis Drops Presidential Bid

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday dropped his bid for president, saying he didn’t have a “clear path to victory” and that a majority of Republican voters back former President Donald Trump.

DeSantis, who announced the decision on social media, endorsed Trump over former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the GOP primary. He made the announcement six days after finishing a distant second place behind Trump in the Iowa caucuses and two days before the New Hampshire primary.

“Nobody worked harder, and we left it all out on the field,” DeSantis said. “Now, following our second-place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward. If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome — more campaign stops, more interviews — I would do it. 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.”

DeSantis said “it’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance.”

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“He has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents,” DeSantis said. “The days of putting Americans last, of kowtowing to large corporations, of caving to woke ideology are over.”

DeSantis bet heavily on Iowa, pouring resources into the state. But he got drubbed by Trump, who captured 51 percent of the caucus vote and won 98 of 99 counties. DeSantis received 21.2 percent of the vote, while Haley received 19.1 percent and won one county.

Polls showed DeSantis in single digits heading into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, with Trump leading Haley.

As he entered the race last year, DeSantis was well-funded and widely viewed as the top competitor for Trump, who is trying to return to the White House after losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden. But the Republican base stuck with Trump, and Haley gathered momentum while DeSantis struggled.

During an appearance Sunday in New Hampshire, Haley said DeSantis “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. … This comes down to what do you want? Do you want more of the same or do you want something new?” she said in a video posted on the social-media platform X.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried issued a statement that said DeSantis’ campaign was “dead on arrival.”

“Florida Democrats have spent the last year making sure that voters from Iowa to New Hampshire and everywhere in between know exactly how Ron has failed the people of Florida,” Fried said. “His ridiculous obsession with the presidency has had real consequences here, from his refusal to address our property insurance and affordability crises to the effects of his made-up culture wars.”

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also jabbed DeSantis, posting on X: “Fire sale on all Ron DeSantis merch today!”

DeSantis, 45, was elected governor in 2018 after serving in the U.S. House. DeSantis beat Democrat Charlie Crist by more than 19 percentage points in winning a second term in 2022, fueling talk of his presidential prospects.

While Florida’s Republican U.S. senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and many members of Congress backed Trump, most GOP state lawmakers supported DeSantis. After Sunday’s announcement, however, state House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, and Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican and former chairman of the state GOP, quickly issued statements shifting their support to Trump.

“The 2024 presidential election will be one of the most consequential in our lifetime,” Renner said in a statement. “Do we continue on the path toward an economic recession and failed foreign policies under President Joe Biden, or do we take back control of our nation under the Republican values that have made our country the envy of the world? It is time for us to unite and support Donald J. Trump as our nominee for president of the United States.”

— News Service staff writer Jim Turner contributed to this report.

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