DeSantis was initially thought to be a formidable challenger to Trump
The politician, 45, made the announcement in a video shared on X, formerly Twitter.
“Following our second-place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward,” DeSantis said. “If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it. But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources."
"We don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign," he continued.
“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis then noted, adding: “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.”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
- Winston Churchill pic.twitter.com/ECoR8YeiMm
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) January 21, 2024
DeSantis launched his campaign last May amid murmurs that he was the only Republican who could pose a serious threat to Trump, 77.
But his once-promising outlook faced numerous setbacks in the months that followed as controversial Florida laws and a battle with Disney earned him nationwide criticism, and a surge in support for Nikki Haley's platform split the anti-Trump vote.
By July 2023, DeSantis' fledgling campaign team was already feeling the effects of his lackluster poll numbers, reportedly firing a large chunk of staffers for financial reasons after wealthy donors publicly announced they weren't ready to support the governor's presidential ambitions.
Hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow was among the mega-donors to pull their support, telling Reuters in August that the far-right Florida governor would "lose" unless he adopted more moderate stances.
“Extremism isn’t going to get you elected," Bigelow told the outlet, adding that a lot of potential DeSantis donors were "still on the fence" about supporting him. “He does need to shift to get to moderates. He’ll lose if he doesn’t."
As Reuters notes, Bigelow gave $20 million to the pro-DeSantis PAC Never Back Down in March but pulled back on donations later.
Reports also circulated that some other billionaire mega-donors had second thoughts about a DeSantis campaign. On July 24, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that Nelson Peltz, a billionaire businessman and the father of actress Nicola Peltz Beckham, was among those who reconsidered their support for the Florida governor.
Peltz, who was expected to be a huge financial asset to the campaign, allegedly "thinks that most of DeSantis’s policies are acceptable, but his position on abortion is way too severe," a source told theFinancial Times.
Meanwhile, the DeSantis campaign also had to manage the fallout from an anti-LGBTQ+ ad made by the campaign itself and a fan video reportedly shared by a campaign staffer featuring what looks to be a Nazi-era symbol known as the "sonnenrad."
DeSantis took office as Florida's governor following the 2018 elections and was easily reelected in 2022. He will vacate the office in January 2027.
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