In a surprising turn of events, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Monday that he is dropping out of the 2024 presidential race and endorsing former President Donald Trump. DeSantis, who was widely seen as one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination, cited his loyalty to Trump and his desire to unify the party as the main reasons for his decision.
Ron DeSantis Drops Out of Presidential Race
DeSantis, who was elected as Florida’s governor in 2018, had built a national profile as a staunch ally of Trump and a vocal critic of the Biden administration’s policies on immigration, COVID-19, and other issues. He had also gained popularity among conservative voters for his handling of the pandemic in his state, which involved resisting lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine passports. DeSantis had repeatedly touted his record as a successful governor who had balanced public health and economic recovery.
However, his record was not enough to overcome Trump’s dominance in the Republican field. According to a recent poll by Morning Consult, Trump had the support of 54% of Republican voters, while DeSantis had only 9%. Trump, who has not officially declared his candidacy, but has hinted at running again, has maintained a loyal base of supporters who view him as the rightful winner of the 2020 election and the only one who can defeat Biden in 2024.
DeSantis’ departure was days in the making, according to sources close to his campaign. He had been struggling to raise money and attract endorsements from influential figures in the party. He had also faced criticism from some of his supporters for not being aggressive enough in challenging Trump and for appearing too moderate on some issues, such as climate change and criminal justice reform. DeSantis had reportedly been weighing his options for weeks, and had consulted with his family, advisers, and donors before making his final decision.
Endorsement of Trump
DeSantis made his announcement at a press conference in Tallahassee, where he was joined by Trump, who flew in from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. DeSantis praised Trump as a “great leader” and a “true patriot” who had “made America great again”. He said that he was proud to have worked with Trump during his presidency and that he was honored to have his endorsement. He also said that he was confident that Trump would win the nomination and the election, and that he would do everything in his power to help him.
Trump, in turn, thanked DeSantis for his endorsement and his service as governor. He said that DeSantis was a “fantastic” and “brilliant” governor who had done a “tremendous job” in Florida. He also said that DeSantis was a “friend” and a “warrior” who had fought for the America First agenda. He said that he was looking forward to working with DeSantis to “save our country” and to “stop the radical left”.
The endorsement marked a meek end to a bitter rivalry that had been brewing between the two men for months. DeSantis and Trump had clashed over several issues, such as the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the role of social media platforms, and the future of the Republican Party. DeSantis had also tried to distance himself from some of Trump’s controversial statements and actions, such as his refusal to concede the 2020 election, his incitement of the January 6th Capitol riot, and his lawsuits against Big Tech companies. DeSantis had also hinted at his own presidential ambitions, and had visited several key states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, to test the waters.
By suspending his presidential bid and endorsing Trump, DeSantis effectively conceded that he could not compete with Trump’s popularity and influence in the party. He also acknowledged that he could not afford to alienate Trump’s supporters, who make up a large and loyal segment of the Republican base. DeSantis also hoped that by aligning himself with Trump, he could boost his chances of winning re-election as governor in 2022, and position himself as a potential successor to Trump in the future.
However, DeSantis’ endorsement also exposed his weaknesses as a presidential candidate. DeSantis, who had a military and legal background, had struggled to connect with voters on a personal level, and to articulate a clear and compelling vision for the country. He had also faced scrutiny for his ties to controversial figures and groups, such as Matt Gaetz, Roger Stone, and the Proud Boys. DeSantis had also been accused of corruption, cronyism, and abuse of power, such as steering COVID-19 vaccines to wealthy donors, suppressing data on virus cases and deaths, and banning local officials from imposing public health measures.
Implications of DeSantis’ Decision
DeSantis’ decision to drop out of the race and endorse Trump had significant implications for the 2024 election and the Republican Party. On the one hand, DeSantis’ exit and endorsement could strengthen Trump’s position as the frontrunner and the presumptive nominee. Trump could benefit from DeSantis’ support in Florida, a crucial swing state that he won in 2016 and 2020, and that he would need to win again in 2024. Trump could also leverage DeSantis’ popularity and credibility among conservative voters, especially on issues such as immigration and COVID-19. Trump could also use DeSantis’ endorsement to rally the party behind him and to deter potential challengers from entering the race.
On the other hand, DeSantis’ exit and endorsement could also weaken Trump’s chances of winning the general election and the presidency. Trump could face backlash from some of his supporters who preferred DeSantis over him, and who viewed DeSantis as a more viable and electable candidate. Trump could also alienate some of the moderate and independent voters who disliked Trump’s divisive and polarizing style, and who were looking for a fresh and alternative voice in the Republican Party. Trump could also face more opposition and criticism from the Democrats, the media, and the public, who would hold him accountable for his record and his actions as president, and who would challenge his legitimacy and his fitness for office.
DeSantis’ decision also had potential impact on other Republican candidates who were considering or running for the presidency. DeSantis’ exit and endorsement could discourage some of the candidates who were hoping to challenge Trump from the right, such as Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Tom Cotton. DeSantis’ exit and endorsement could also encourage some of the candidates who were hoping to challenge Trump from the center, such as Nikki Haley, Larry Hogan, and Mitt Romney. DeSantis’ exit and endorsement could also create an opening for some of the candidates who were hoping to appeal to a broader and more diverse coalition of voters, such as Tim Scott, Marco Rubio, and Ben Sasse.
In conclusion, Ron DeSantis’ decision to drop out of the 2024 presidential race and endorse Donald Trump was a surprising and significant development that reshaped the Republican field and the 2024 election. DeSantis, who was one of the leading contenders for the nomination, cited his loyalty to Trump and his desire to unify the party as the main reasons for his decision. DeSantis’ exit and endorsement could have both positive and negative effects for Trump’s chances of winning the nomination and the presidency. DeSantis’ decision also had implications for other Republican candidates who were vying for the White House. DeSantis’ decision was a reflection of Trump’s dominance and influence in the Republican Party, and a reminder of the challenges and opportunities that the party faced in the 2024 election and beyond.