Ron DeSantis Drops Out of Republican Presidential Race

Ron DeSantis Drops Out of Republican Presidential Race – Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has decided to conclude his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and has thrown his support behind Donald Trump. “It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” he said in a statement posted on X. 

“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’s exit before the New Hampshire primary comes after a less-than-ideal outcome in the Iowa caucus, where he secured second place but lagged significantly behind Donald Trump. 

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In New Hampshire, he fell behind both former South Carolina governor Haley and Trump. On Sunday night, Trump put aside months of criticism to acknowledge DeSantis as his latest supporter. “I just want to thank Ron and congratulate him on doing a very good job,” Trump said. “He was very gracious, and he endorsed me. I appreciate that, and I also look forward to working with Ron.”

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“He’s been a good governor and I wish him well,” Haley said at a campaign event on Sunday. “Having said that, it’s now one fella and one lady left.” DeSantis’s announcement marked the end of a prolonged and distressing decline. Just in spring 2023, the former navy lawyer and conservative congressman were widely considered the leading Republican capable of preventing Trump from securing the nomination for a third consecutive election. 

He pursued this goal by adopting stern Trumpist policies while minimizing the associated drama. In November 2022, DeSantis cruised past the Democrat Charlie Crist to win a second term in Tallahassee. In his victory speech, he crowed: “We have embraced freedom. We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers and we reject ‘woke’ ideology.”

Referencing Winston Churchill, a near-mythic figure on the American right, he went on: “We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools, we fight the woke in the corporations. We will never ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.” He received a rapturous reception, supporters with an eye on 2024 chanting “two more years” and the New York Post branding him “DeFuture”, as speculation abounded that Rupert Murdoch was finally set to move on from Trump.

Despite robust fundraising, an apparently well-established campaign structure, positive polling, and the emergence of a rising Republican figure in his wife, Casey DeSantis, things took a turn for the worse after a prolonged lead-up to a formal campaign announcement. DeSantis faced challenges with his hard-right agenda when he decided to confront Disney, a major employer in Florida, regarding its opposition to his “don’t say gay” policy on LGBTQ+ issues in schools. 

This sparked a series of stories, scandals, and lawsuits related to book bans in school libraries, persistently haunting the campaign. The kick-off of that campaign in May, which involved a Twitter Spaces session with Elon Musk, turned into a comedy of errors as the platform experienced glitches and technical issues. The event host, the donor David Sacks, claimed: “We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign.” Few observers agreed.

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On the campaign trail in the ensuing months, the governor’s demeanor appeared awkward and stiff. For a campaign heavily reliant on social media and its lurking influencers, the resulting cascade of ridiculing memes and threads certainly wasn’t part of the plan. A summer debacle unfolded over peculiar campaign videos featuring far-right, white supremacist, Nazi, and arguably homoerotic imagery, posted on social media. 

Despite subsequent firings, the campaign’s image suffered another significant blow, accompanied by reports of fundraising challenges. Scandals emerged, including an attempt to alter history teaching in state schools, particularly regarding the role of slavery in Florida’s past. Efforts to provoke Democrats on immigration, such as transporting undocumented migrants to Democratic-run states by bus or plane, ended up in the courts.

As the polling gap widened with Trump and the former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley steadily advanced in the field, DeSantis scrambled to find ways to regain momentum. In November, he surprised many by engaging in a debate with a Democrat other than Joe Biden. The Fox News-hosted showdown with Gavin Newsom, the California governor, turned out to be more of a sideshow. 

As the first vote drew near, DeSantis and Haley became more open to criticizing Trump, albeit with gloves on. Even Trump’s false claim about a stolen election in 2020 proved challenging to completely disown. In Iowa, DeSantis secured crucial endorsements from Governor Kim Reynolds and evangelical leaders, finishing second. However, this didn’t propel his campaign into secure territory in New Hampshire, leading him to withdraw before the numbers could reveal the extent of his lag.

The news was cause for celebration among Democrats on Sunday. “As Democrats, we’ve been shouting from the rooftops that his strategy of waging culture wars on the backs of hardworking Floridians just to further his own ambitions was wrong for the state & would be disastrous for the nation,” said Fentrice Driskell, the lead Democrat in the Florida state legislature on Twitter/X.

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Sarafina Chitika, spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said: “Just like Trump, DeSantis ran a campaign pledging to ban abortion nationwide, rip away access to health care, and gut Social Security and Medicare, while embracing election deniers and whitewashing January 6. Whichever candidate wins the race for the Maga base will be left running on the same dangerous and unpopular anti-freedom agenda that voters will reject in November.”

The New Hampshire voters appeared relatively unfazed by his sudden announcement. Two hours before a scheduled event in New Hampshire, there was no trace of the DeSantis campaign or his supporters at The Farm Bar and Grille. A staff member mentioned they learned about DeSantis’s absence from news reports and noted that he had not prepaid for the space.

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