Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has withdrawn from the 2024 US presidential race and announced his endorsement of Donald Trump.
DeSantis withdrew before the New Hampshire Republican primary.
DeSantis was previously considered a strong contender for the party’s nomination, but said Sunday that he “does not have a clear path to victory.”
Nikki Haley, Trump’s latest rival, said she is “the only one” capable of defeating US President Joe Biden.
Haley is scheduled to face Trump face-to-face in New Hampshire on Tuesday, which is the second confrontation in a series of competitions taking place at the state level to choose a Republican candidate for the general elections in November.
In a roughly five-minute video posted on
At the end of his seven-month election campaign, he added: “If there is anything I can do to achieve a positive result – it is more campaign stops, more interviews – I will do it.”
The governor of Florida said that he supports Trump, who is considered the most likely candidate after winning the first election in Iowa with 51% of the vote. DeSantis said it has become clear that a majority of Republican voters “want to give Donald Trump another chance.”
He acknowledged “differences” with the former president, but said Trump was “superior” to Biden, who will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee in the general election scheduled for November.
“I have signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge,” DeSantis said.
Cheers rose when Trump made his first comments about DeSantis’ withdrawal and endorsement among a crowd of eight of his supporters in New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon.
Later, addressing an audience at a rally, Trump described his former rival as “a really great person,” adding: “He ran a really good campaign, and this is not easy.”
DeSantis presented himself as the Republican candidate who could advance Trump’s populist agenda without problems.
But one speaker at the event, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, referred to him as “Skinny Trump.” Many Trump supporters told the BBC that they liked the Florida governor, but felt this was not the right time for him.
Lynn Mason, 60, said she thought DeSantis’ campaign was “a little weak” and that she “expected more from him.” She added that Trump is “the only person at this time who can save the country.”
Bethann Tatro, another local Trump supporter, agreed. He added: “I think President Trump has proven, from his previous presence in office, that he is capable of doing this again and getting things back on track.”
After DeSantis’ announcement, the Trump campaign called on all Republicans to rally behind Trump, and criticized his country’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, describing her as “the candidate of globalists and Democrats who will do everything in his power to stop the America First movement.”
DeSantis also criticized Haley, calling her a member of the “old Republican guard.”
Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, responded by insisting she was the conservative candidate — “the only one” — who could beat Biden.
“There are two people in this race,” she told CNN in New Hampshire. “This is what we wanted all along, and we’re going to keep moving forward.”
DeSantis narrowly finished the race over Haley in the Iowa caucuses last week, receiving 21% of the vote, compared to her 19%, both well behind Trump.
At the time, DeSantis viewed his second-place finish as a victory, but it was a major disappointment after spending the bulk of his time and resources courting conservative evangelical voters.
Ysantis’ exit from the competition spares him an embarrassing third-place finish against Haley in New Hampshire, which has focused far more of its resources in the state.
But a person familiar with DeSantis’ election night plans in New Hampshire was quite surprised by the news of his exit.
The source told the BBC that the campaign had just confirmed its plans with them on Saturday to celebrate Election Night next Tuesday.
“The race has been trending toward one between Trump and Haley for some time,” Chris Ager, chairman of the Republican State Committee in New Hampshire, told the BBC.
“That makes it so,” he added.
Former President Donald Trump had warned DeSantis against running for president in 2024, saying it would hurt the Republican Party. “I think he’s going to make a huge mistake,” the former president told Fox News. “I think the fan base is not going to like it.”
Who is DeSantis?
DeSantis is a relative newcomer to the political scene, but he rose to prominence quickly after becoming governor of Florida in 2019.
DeSantis, 44, is a new face as he was first elected to a seat in the House of Representatives in 2012. Just six years later in 2018, after a short-lived bid to become a senator, he became governor of Florida.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1978, DeSantis went to Yale University to study history – where he was captain of the baseball team – and soon after to Harvard Law School.
During his second year at Harvard, he was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy into its legal branch, the Judicial General Corps (JAG).
His service assignments as an officer in the Corps included working with detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, in addition to being appointed as a legal advisor to elite US Marine forces deployed in Iraq.
DeSantis was honorably discharged from the military in 2010, but remains on active duty in the US Navy Reserve. It was also around this time that he met his wife, Casey, a local TV news reporter and cancer survivor, who helped raise funds in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in 2022.