Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has unexpectedly withdrawn from the 2024 presidential race and pledged his support to former President Donald Trump. DeSantis, once considered a strong contender, made the announcement ahead of the New Hampshire Republican primary where he was polling in single digits.
In a video posted on X (formerly Twitter), DeSantis cited a lack of a clear path to victory for his campaign, acknowledging that a majority of Republican voters lean towards giving Donald Trump another chance. Despite past disagreements, DeSantis endorsed Trump, emphasizing Trump’s superiority over Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee.
Nikki Haley, the last remaining challenger to Trump, expressed confidence in her ability to defeat President Biden. The New Hampshire primary, scheduled for Tuesday, will now feature a head-to-head contest between Trump and Haley.
DeSantis had presented himself as a candidate who could champion Trump’s populist agenda without the associated drama. However, some supporters viewed him as “diet Trump.” After a disappointing performance in Iowa, where he narrowly edged out Haley for second place, DeSantis faced challenges in gaining momentum.
His departure from the race is seen as an attempt to avoid a potential third-place finish in New Hampshire and to concentrate support behind Trump. DeSantis took a swipe at Haley, labeling her as a representative of the “old Republican guard” and endorsing Trump as the candidate who can resist a return to past ideologies.
Nikki Haley responded to DeSantis’s exit by expressing well wishes and highlighting that the race is now down to “one fella and one lady.” She emphasized her conservative credentials, positioning herself as the “only one” who can defeat Biden.
DeSantis’s decision to drop out caught some insiders off guard, as plans for his election night celebration in New Hampshire were confirmed just a day prior. Observers suggest that the Republican race is now consolidating into a direct competition between Trump and Haley.
While DeSantis aimed to distinguish himself as a viable alternative to Trump, he struggled to articulate a compelling case to voters, facing financial strain and challenges in fundraising. Pro-DeSantis super PAC, “Never Back Down,” played a significant role in the campaign, but internal conflicts and turnover affected its effectiveness.
In choosing to exit the race, DeSantis aims to preserve his political capital for a potential 2028 bid. He also seeks to repair ties with Trump supporters and avoid being perceived as aligning with Haley or appearing anti-Trump.
The unexpected move has shifted the dynamics of the Republican primary, setting the stage for a head-to-head battle between Trump and Haley in New Hampshire. DeSantis’s decision is seen as a strategic move to consolidate support behind Trump and influence the primary’s outcome.