Ron DeSantis ends his struggling presidential bid before New Hampshire and endorses Donald Trump

MANCHESTER, NH — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday suspended his Republican presidential campaign just before the New Hampshire primary and endorsed Donald Trump, ending a bid for the White House that fell short of expectations that he would emerge as a serious challenger to the former president.

“It is clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” he said in a video on X, formerly known as Twitter. The first primaries in New Hampshire come Tuesday.

DeSantis mocked former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, long his biggest rival for second place in the primaries, saying Republicans “cannot go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of reheated corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”

The big state’s ambitious governor entered the 2024 presidential election with major advantages in his quest to take on Trump, and early primaries suggested DeSantis was in a strong position to do just that. He and his allies amassed a political fortune of more than $100 million, and he had a significant legislative record on issues important to many conservatives, such as abortion and the teaching of race and gender issues in schools .

Such benefits did not survive the realities of presidential politics in 2024. From a high-profile announcement plagued by technical issues to ongoing upheavals in his staff and campaign strategy, DeSantis struggled to find his place in the primaries. He lost the Iowa caucuses – which he had promised to win – to Trump by 30 percentage points.

And now DeSantis’ political future hangs in the balance after he suspended his presidential bid after just one voting contest. The 45-year-old has a limited term as governor of Florida.

DeSantis was widely expected to be a serious challenger to Trump. Trump acknowledged the threat and viciously went after the Florida governor in the months leading up to DeSantis’ announcement in May. In the months that followed, he continued to target him during his campaign, on social media and in paid advertisements.

Still, many of DeSantis’ problems may have been his own fault.

Fueled by his dominant 2022 re-election bid in Florida, DeSantis bucked tradition by announcing his presidential campaign on X, in a conversation on the social media site with CEO Elon Musk. The site repeatedly failed during the call, making it virtually impossible to hear his opening speech as a presidential candidate.

In the weeks and months that followed, DeSantis struggled to connect with voters on a personal level under the unforgiving bright lights of the presidential podium.

He irritated some New Hampshire Republican officials during his campaign’s opening visit to New Hampshire by refusing to answer voters’ questions, as is tradition in the state. And later, awkward interactions with voters in other states were also caught on camera.

More serious financial problems arose during the summer.

By late July, DeSantis had laid off nearly 40 employees in an effort to cut about a third of his campaign pay. The cuts came shortly after public documents showed he was burning his substantial campaign coffers at an unsustainable pace.

Some people looking for a Trump alternative backed Haley, the former diplomat and governor of South Carolina who gained popularity among many Republican donors, independent voters and the so-called Never Trump crowd.

DeSantis and Haley regularly attacked each other in debates and in ads, often more directly than going after Trump.

As internal financial concerns mounted, DeSantis aggressively turned to an allied super PAC to perform basic campaign functions such as organizing campaign events, advertising and an extensive door-knocking operation.

Federal law does not allow campaigns to be coordinated directly with super PACs. In December, a nonpartisan government watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, citing reporting from The Associated Press and others, alleging that the level of coordination and communication between DeSantis’ campaign and the Never Back Down super PAC constituted a legal crossed the border.

DeSantis denied any wrongdoing and called the complaint “a farce.”

Still, the steady stream of negative developments leading up to the first primaries undermined the confidence of DeSantis’ donor network, which should have been a major force, and potential supporters at the ballot box. As his voting numbers stagnated, DeSantis and his allies retreated to their multi-state strategy and focused virtually all their resources on the opening caucuses in Iowa.

After bowing out of the 2024 presidential election, DeSantis is now turning his attention once again to the remainder of his second and final term as Florida’s governor, which ends in January 2027.