Ron DeSantis bows down to Trump and drops out of Republican primaries

The Florida governor failed to beat the former president in Iowa, and his prospects in New Hampshire were dismal. Now he has endorsed the real estate magnate

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis, this Friday in Dover (New Hampshire).REBA SALDANHA (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has thrown in the towel. The Republican candidate has been powerless to stop the rise of Donald Trump and announced Sunday that he was dropping out of the primaries for the presidential election. His name will still appear on the ballot in New Hampshire, but his campaign is over, and his political future is unknown. Perhaps he will try again in 2028. For now, he has endorsed Trump — a somewhat humiliating move given the former president has insulted him, called him names and disparaged him.

“I am today suspending my campaign. I am proud to have delivered on 100% of my promises and I will not stop now,” he said in the video announcing his withdrawal from the race. “It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” he continued. “Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear. I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge. 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.”

Nickname retired

DeSantis endorsed Trump, despite the fact the former president has consistently called him names — such as Ron DeSanctimonious and Ron DeSanctus — in a bid to paint him as sanctimonious and prudish. Trump also called the governor disloyal, joked about not being able to pronounce his name, relished his every setback, and said he needed a personality transplant. Trump and his team even mocked him for wearing heel lifts to look taller.

But on Sunday, during a campaign stop in Manchester, when Trump was asked if he was going to continue using the nickname Ron DeSanctimonious, he replied: “That name is officially retired.”

“We just got some word that one of our opponents, a very capable person, is dropping out of the race — Ron DeSantis. And Ron is dropping out and, in doing so, he endorsed us,” Trump said to cheers, before addressing a packed rally in Rochester, where hundreds of people were unable to get in.

The former president said that DeSantis “ran a great race.” “As you know he left the campaign trail today at 3 p.m. and in so doing he was very gracious and he endorsed me, so I appreciate it,” he said, while also praising the Florida governor’s wife.

For her part, Nikki Haley spoke about DeSantis’ decision to withdrawal at an event in Seabrook. “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,” she said, in reference to the two-way race between her and Trump.

DeSantis’ withdrawal comes just two days before the New Hampshire primary, where he was facing dismal numbers. According to the latest poll published on Sunday by CNN, the governor was polling at 6%, light years behind Donald Trump’s 50% and Nikki Haley’s 39%. In national polls, the Florida governor was close to 50 points behind Trump and had fallen behind Haley.

His decision to drop out of the race means the Republican primary is now just between two people: Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. Initially, there were more than a dozen presidential hopefuls, but one by one they have withdrawn from the race. The mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, withdrew when he was left out of the first debate. Former vice president Mike Pence, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and the former governor of New Jersey officially withdrew before the primaries began. After the Iowa caucuses, Asa Hutchinson, who was never a real contender, and Vivek Ramaswamy, threw in the towel. Burgum, Scott, Ramaswamy and DeSantis have all endorsed Trump.

A downwardly mobile candidacy

Just over a year ago, when speculation began to mount about DeSantis running for the White House, he appeared to be a formidable challenger to Trump. Early primary polls suggested he was in a strong position to challenge the former president, especially after his landslide success in his re-election bid for Florida governor in November 2022.

DeSantis initially had the support of large Republican donors and amassed tens of millions of dollars. However, the Florida governor failed to connect with voters. He did not greet or smile naturally and seemed to always be acting. DeSantis also did not dare to attack Donald Trump outright, for fear of upsetting the party’s rank-and-file supporters. In the end, he became irrelevant.

His campaign got off to a bad start, with his official announcement in May plagued by technical glitches. He then failed to stand up to Trump’s attacks and was unable to stand out in the primary debates.

He lost by 30 points to Trump in the Iowa caucuses, which favored him as a conservative and religious state. He had promised to win there until he saw that it was impossible.

The Florida governor planned to resume the New Hampshire campaign on Sunday, but he aborted those plans. After the Iowa caucuses, he tried to rouse supporters in South Carolina, aware that his prospects in New Hampshire were poor, but his campaign did not get any traction there either. Finally, he decided to return to Tallahassee, the capital of Florida. DeSantis is bowing out after achieving the honor at least of a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

The Florida governor notified major donors and supporters of his decision to withdraw in a series of phone conversations and text messages from top campaign officials, according to two people who received those communications cited by the AP, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Suspicions that he would withdraw had begun to spread after DeSantis turned down several television interviews scheduled for Sunday.

In the message accompanying the video to announce his withdrawal, DeSantis quoted Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Will he be back in 2028?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo

¿Quieres añadir otro usuario a tu suscripción?

Si continúas leyendo en este dispositivo, no se podrá leer en el otro.

¿Por qué estás viendo esto?


Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo y solo puedes acceder a EL PAÍS desde un dispositivo a la vez.

Si quieres compartir tu cuenta, cambia tu suscripción a la modalidad Premium, así podrás añadir otro usuario. Cada uno accederá con su propia cuenta de email, lo que os permitirá personalizar vuestra experiencia en EL PAÍS.

En el caso de no saber quién está usando tu cuenta, te recomendamos cambiar tu contraseña aquí.

Si decides continuar compartiendo tu cuenta, este mensaje se mostrará en tu dispositivo y en el de la otra persona que está usando tu cuenta de forma indefinida, afectando a tu experiencia de lectura. Puedes consultar aquí los términos y condiciones de la suscripción digital.

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS