Known for his hard-right wing policies in the state of Florida and being an early favorite for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially suspended his 2024 campaign.
In a video posted to X on Sunday, Jan. 21, DeSantis explained his decision to pull out of the race while also endorsing former President Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination.
“If there was anything I could do to produce a more favorable outcome — more campaign stops, more interviews — I would do it,” DeSantis said. “But I can’t ask our volunteers to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory.”
“[Trump] 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.”
The Florida governor’s campaign suspension comes days after GOP candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suspended their campaigns.
Christie was recently caught on a hot mic stating that DeSantis was “petrified” of the Iowa caucus outcome only days before, further implying that DeSantis would drop out of the race if he came out behind Trump.
According to the Associated Press, Trump earned 51% of the vote at the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, with DeSantis only winning 21.2% of the vote and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley winning 19.1%.
DeSantis has been the architect behind several controversial policies in the state of Florida. These policies have included defunding Florida public universities’ diversity and inclusion programs, advocating for the state’s abortion ban to be pushed back to six weeks of pregnancy, permitting open carry and signing anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“His high-profile fight with Disney, one of Florida’s largest private employers, over the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law also symbolized the importance he placed on these issues relative to ensuring the economic prosperity of his state,” said Gregory Koger, director of the George P. Hanley Democracy Center and a professor of political science at UM.
“The failure of DeSantis’ campaign may demonstrate to Republican leaders that the DeSantis agenda does not resonate with the Republican party base or the American public.”
Despite these stances, many Republicans viewed him as a strong, but less chaotic alternative to Trump as the party’s presidential nominee.
“[DeSantis] attracted support from Republican leaders, including Fox News, who were ready to move on from Donald Trump and saw someone who might appeal to the same voting base but without Trump’s flaws,” Koger said.
Because many of his policies affect college students directly, those from DeSantis’ home state share poignant opinions about his recent campaign suspension.
“I think dropping out was in his best interest,” said Vrinda Gupta, a sophomore from Pembroke Pines, Florida. “He doesn’t care about Florida or the people of America. Only about winning.”
Both Trump and Haley are the only contenders left in the race for the 2024 GOP nomination.
As they continue to compete ahead of November, each candidate has their own obstacles to overcome, with states like Colorado and Maine having suspended Trump from their ballots in relation to the incidents on Jan. 6, 2021, and Haley trailing behind Trump by roughly 40 points according to one poll from FiveThirtyEight.
“DeSantis’s policy positions and overall brand is more similar to Trump than Haley, but some pundits suggest that any Republican primary voters who were not already supporting Trump might seek out another non-Trump candidate,” Koger said.
“Usually, a candidate who comes in second in the Iowa caucuses will consider that a near-victory and keep going, but it was clear that DeSantis would lose the next two primaries (New Hampshire and South Carolina) to both Trump and Haley. DeSantis clearly decided it was better to end on a reasonably strong note rather than lose badly and watch his campaign organization disintegrate for lack of funds.”