Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, once considered a strong contender for the Republican nomination, has dropped out of the 2024 presidential race and says he will endorse Donald Trump.
He forfeited ahead of the Republican primary election in New Hampshire, where he was polling in the single digits.
Nikki Haley, Trump’s last remaining Republican competitor, said she is the “only one” able to beat US President Joe Biden.
Haley will go head-to-head with Trump in New Hampshire on Tuesday. This will be the second round in a series of state-by-state contests aimed at choosing a Republican nominee for the November general election.
In a nearly five-minute long video on X, formerly Twitter, released on Sunday afternoon, DeSantis said his campaign had “left it all out on the field.”
“If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome—more campaign stops, more interviews—I would do it,” he added, as he ended his seven-month campaign.
The Florida Governor said he will be endorsing Trump, who is the clear frontrunner after winning the first contest in Iowa with 51 percent of the vote. DeSantis said it had become clear that a majority of Republican voters “want to give Donald Trump another chance.”
He acknowledged “disagreements” with the former President but said Trump was “superior” to President Biden, who is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee in November’s general election.
“I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge,” DeSantis said.
Trump on DeSantis: A “really terrific person”
There were loud cheers when Trump made his first comments about DeSantis’ withdrawal and endorsement to a room full of supporters in New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon.
Later, addressing an audience at a rally, Trump described his former opponent as a “really terrific person,” adding that “he ran a really good campaign, [and] it’s not easy.”
DeSantis had presented himself as the Republican candidate who could deliver Trump’s populist agenda without the drama or baggage, the BBC notes.
After DeSantis’ announcement, the Trump campaign called on all Republicans to rally behind Trump, slamming his former UN Ambassador as “the candidate of the globalists and Democrats who will do everything to stop the America First movement.”
DeSantis also took a swipe at Haley, calling her a member of “the old Republican guard of yesteryear—a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism.”
Haley, a former South Carolina governor, responded by insisting she was the conservative candidate—the “only one”—who could beat Biden.
“There’s two people in this race,” she told CNN in New Hampshire. “That’s what we wanted all along, and we’re going to keep going.”