Ron DeSantis drops out of presidential race and endorses Trump

Ron DeSantis has withdrawn from the Republican primary race, leaving just Donald Trump and Nikki Haley battling for the nomination ahead of New Hampshire’s primary tomorrow.

The Florida governor said he did not have “a clear path to victory” and was suspending his campaign to endorse Donald Trump.

In a video posted on X, he said that while he had “had disagreements with Donald Trump”, he was “superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden”.

“He has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear,” he said.

“Following our second place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward,” he said.

“If there was anything I could do to produce a more favourable 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 if we don’t have a clear path to victory.

“Accordingly, I am now suspending my campaign.”

Campaign has suffered

Polls showed Mr DeSantis was expected to receive around 6 per cent of votes in the New Hampshire primary, where Mr Trump and Ms Haley are competing for first place.

His campaign has suffered in recent days following a disappointing performance in the Iowa caucuses last Tuesday, where he secured 21 per cent of the vote and only narrowly beat Ms Haley.

Mr DeSantis had poured significant resources into Iowa, hoping to be in contention to win the vote or close that gap between himself and Mr Trump, who won a landslide.

In New Hampshire, the eligibility of independent voters in the Republican primary and Mr Trump’s dominance of the contest left Mr DeSantis with little chance of attracting significant support.

A poll released yesterday morning found Mr Trump was projected to win in the Granite State with 46 per cent of the vote, with Ms Haley receiving 44 per cent. Mr DeSantis had the support of 6 per cent of eligible voters, it found. Other polls by CNN and Suffolk University suggested Mr Trump’s lead may larger, predicting he will beat Ms Haley by a margin of 11 to 19 points.

The first sign that Mr DeSantis was planning to withdraw came on Saturday night, when he cancelled two scheduled media interviews on CNN and NBC, while Never Back Down, his Super Political Action Committee, cancelled events in New Hampshire, citing scheduling issues.

Mr Trump’s campaign seized on the apparent turmoil in Mr DeSantis’s camp, with staff posting online that the “end is near”.

‘Not about ego or ambition’

Vivek Ramaswamy, who withdrew from the race after the Iowa caucus results, said that Mr DeSantis “would do the GOP and the country a great service if he drops out tonight”.

“This movement can’t be about ego or ambition. He deserves immense credit if he does. This primary needs to end on Tuesday,” he said. In response to the news Mr DeSantis had cancelled events and interviews, David Axelrod, the former Obama strategist, said: “Sounds like the end of the road.”

Following the Iowa caucus result, Never Back Down reportedly began sacking campaign staff, and moving many of the remainder to South Carolina, which will vote for its preferred nominee at the end of the month.

Mr DeSantis had hoped that months of work in Iowa and an expensive ground campaign would help him secure an early victory in Iowa, but he attracted less support than expected from rural voters and evangelical Christians, analysis of the results shows.

The 45-year-old former US Navy officer launched his presidential bid in May last year, and became the favourite of various contenders hoping to beat Mr Trump to the Republican nomination.

Reacting to the news, Ms Haley said Mr DeSantis “ran a great race” as she told a crowd in New Hampshire: “There’s now one fella, and one lady left.”

Speaking to supporters on a campaign stop, she said: “He ran a great race, he was a good governor, and we wish him well.

“Having said that, there were 14 people in this race. There were a lot of fellas.

“All the fellas are out, and this comes down to: what do you want? Do you want more of the same? Or do you want something different?”

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