Florida Governor DeSantis withdraws from Republican primary, endorses Trump for 2024

Trump congratulated DeSantis at his New Hampshire rally for running a "good" campaign

US-POLITICS-VOTE-DESANTIS Florida governor Ron DeSantis | AFP

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced that he is withdrawing from the Republican party's presidential primary race and endorsing Donald Trump as the party's nominee, leaving Indian-American politician Nikki Haley as the sole challenger against the former US president in the nomination contest.

DeSantis, who came in second in the Iowa caucuses with 21 per cent, suspended his campaign on Sunday. He said that it was clear to him that a majority of Republican primary voters wanted to give Trump another chance.

"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 today suspending my campaign," the 45-year-old politician said in a video message posted on X, a social media platform.

Haley, 51, the former US ambassador to the UN, is the only Republican left in the Republican nomination race against Trump, who is seeking to enter the White House for a second term.

 The 77-year-old former president, a White House occupant from January 2017 to January 2021, lost to incumbent Joe Biden in the 2020 elections.

 Trump, so far the most popular Republican presidential candidate with a majority of the party members supporting him, as per all major polls, won the Iowa Caucus last week and is leading in the New Hampshire primaries, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

DeSantis said: I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honour that pledge. 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."

"Following our second-place finish in Iowa, we've prayed and deliberated on our way forward. If there was anything I could do to produce a favourable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it," he added.

On Sunday, Trump congratulated DeSantis at his New Hampshire rally for running a "good" campaign.

"Before we begin, I'd like to take time to congratulate Ron DeSantis and, of course, a really terrific person who I've gotten to know, his wife Casey, for having run a great campaign for president. He really did. He ran a really good campaign, I will tell you. It's not easy," he said

"They think it's easy doing this stuff, right? It's not easy. As you know, he left the campaign trail today at 3 p.m., and in so doing, he was very gracious, and he endorsed me, so I appreciate it. I appreciate that, and I also look forward to working with Ron to defeat crooked Joe Biden. We have to get him out," the Politico newspaper reported.

With the withdrawal by DeSantis, who once was seen as a formidable challenge to Trump, it's now a race of two in the party between Trump and Haley.

Political pundits now say that the former president is set to be the Republican party's nominee and that the November 2024 presidential elections will be a repeat of the 2020 elections: Trump vs Biden.

The Trump campaign also welcomed DeSantis' dropout. "With only a few days left until president Donald J Trump's victory in New Hampshire, we are honoured by the endorsement from Governor Ron DeSantis and so many other former presidential candidates. It is now time for all Republicans to rally behind president Trump to defeat crooked Joe Biden and end his disastrous presidency," it said.

The Trump campaign also criticised Haley. "Nikki Haley is the candidate of the globalists and Democrats who will do everything to stop the America First movement. From higher taxes to decimating Social Security and Medicare, and to open borders, she represents the views of Democrats more than the views of Republicans," the campaign said.

A memo issued by the Trump Campaign also said that Haley needed to drop out of the race to save herself from humiliation. "Now that we are a mere 48 hours from the Primary, the tone has shifted mightily. We see it, you see it, but make no mistake, if Nikki Haley loses in New Hampshire - there are only two options, the memo said, adding that the Indian-American politician should either drop out and unite behind Trump or get "demolished and embarrassed" in her home state of South Carolina.

However, Haley, the former South Carolina governor, insisted that she would stay in the race. "I want to say to Ron: he ran a great race. He's been a good governor. And we wish him well. Having said that, it's now one fellow and one lady left," she said at a campaign event in New Hampshire.In a statement, she said that only one state had voted so far, and half of its votes went to Trump while the other half did not. "We're not a country of coronations. Voters deserve a say in whether we go down the road of Trump and Biden again or we go down a new conservative road. New Hampshire voters will have their say on Tuesday. When I'm president, I will do everything in my power to show them they made the right decision," Haley said.

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