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“If there was anything I could do to produce a more favorable outcome —more campaign stops, more interviews — I would do it,” he said. “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.”
The announcement came only hours before a scheduled DeSantis campaign event at a restaurant in Manchester, New Hampshire which was subsequently canceled and turned into a de facto wake for DeSantis’s supporters in the Granite State. There were wings and chicken tenders in a reserved private room where sorrows could be drowned with an open bar. Supporters of the Florida governor’s campaign could be heard trying to process the end of the campaign. One DeSantis backer said it “feels like a high school breakup,” while another looked ahead to 2028 and being able to “live to fight another day.”
DeSantis’s exit marked a sudden and disappointing end to the presidential bid of a candidate who had been heralded for years as the natural successor to Donald Trump, one who combined both the former president’s ability to own the libs but without the chaos and criminal indictments.
After he was narrowly elected governor in 2018 following three terms in Congress, DeSantis emerged relatively early during the pandemic among Republicans to oppose measures such as mask mandates, endearing him to the right. After Trump’s loss in 2020 and the ensuing attack on the Capitol, DeSantis was turned into a conservative media darling by those who saw him as a candidate who could appeal to Trump’s base without the baggage of the MAGA leader. DeSantis overwhelmingly won reelection in 2022 at the same time Trump-backed candidates lost during the midterms.
It seemed, for a moment, he might be Trump’s heir apparent when the Republican race began that November following Trump’s announcement he was running for president a third time. He was so tarnished from 2020 and the midterms that he was considered to be a co-frontrunner with DeSantis. Soon enough though, Trump attacked DeSantis as an impostor to the throne and Republican primary voters closed ranks around the former president following his Manhattan indictment in late March. By the time DeSantis entered the race in May, his position was already slipping. Even DeSantis’s formal announcement in a Twitter Space with Elon Musk in May couldn’t go off without a massive glitch.
Everything seemed to go wrong for DeSantis, who wasn’t helped by his wooden manner on the stump. And it wasn’t just that his campaign never seemed to pick a lane — as one Trump ally pointed out last year. “He’s trying out too broad of a coalition; he’s trying to have this coalition of Gateway Pundit readers and National Review readers under the same tent.” DeSantis ended up with the support of neither camp.
He also faced a constant barrage of criticism from Trump and his allies designed to belittle him: they literally made fun of his height and the house style of campaign communications was abject mockery — they called him Rob, not Ron, and his super PAC, Never Back Down, was mandated to be referred to as Always Back Down. He could never figure out how to appropriately respond, clearly always afraid of alienating the Trump base he sought to cultivate.
Even highlights like the completion of his 99-county tour in Iowa were paired with news stories about top aides leaving his campaign. His polling flagged against Trump, while Nikki Haley surged almost out of nowhere to challenge his position as the main alternative to the former president. DeSantis staked his campaign on winning Iowa, but he came in 30 points behind Trump in second place. Despite enormous investments in the state, DeSantis did not win a single county and barely edged ahead of Haley.
And even in dropping out, DeSantis suffered one final humiliation: the Winston Churchill quote about failure he shared on X along with his goodbye video turned out to be an invention.
For all the abuse that DeSantis took from Trumpworld, he bent the knee and endorsed Trump on Sunday as he dropped out. “It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis said. The Trump campaign replied in a statement that “we are honored by the endorsement.” For the first time in months, they spelled his name correctly.
This post has been updated.