Ron DeSantis quits US presidential race, now Nikki Haley to take on Trump

Ron DeSantis quits US presidential race, now Nikki Haley to take on Trump
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, once considered a leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, withdrew from the race

Ron DeSantis, once viewed as Republicans’ best shot at moving past Donald Trump, ended his White House bid on Sunday two days before the New Hampshire primary, leaving Nikki Haley as the former US president’s sole challenger for their party’s nomination.

“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis, 45, said in a video posted to X, throwing his support to Trump.
He has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear: a re-packaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents,” the Florida governor added.
That leaves Haley, the former US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, as the last Republican in the race trying to deny Trump the nomination. The winner of this year’s Republican nominating contests will take on President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, in the general election in November.

At a Haley campaign event in Seabrook, New Hampshire, as the state’s voters prepare to head to the polls for the primary on Tuesday, the former South Carolina governor drew cheers when she announced that DeSantis had dropped out.

“For now, I’ll leave you with this: May the best woman win,” Haley said.

One advantage to Haley is that Republican donors now have only a single candidate to support if they want to try and stop Trump, potentially allowing her to campaign beyond the Feb. 24 primary in her home state of South Carolina.

But at the end of the day, Trump may be gaining the most.

In New Hampshire, about two-thirds of DeSantis supporters cite Trump as their second choice, said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Moreover, another critic within the Republican Party has been silenced and given Trump his support. Trump can argue that the party is coalescing around him, and most DeSantis followers are likely to follow their candidate’s lead and back Trump rather than the more moderate Haley.

Haley’s odds remain steep, and she will face instant pressure to drop out herself if she doesn’t do well in her home state of South Carolina.

Early last year, DeSantis had been widely seen as a top contender for the 2024 Republican nomination and a natural heir to Trump due to his combative style and deeply conservative views. He led several head-to-head polls against Trump.

But his support has been declining for several months, due to flawed campaign strategy, his seeming lack of ease with voters on the campaign trail, and Trump’s so far unshakeable hold on much of the party’s base.
More than 70% of Republicans have a favourable opinion of Trump, according to most opinion polls. That put DeSantis in a position where he had to appeal to voters that still admired Trump, as well as those who passionately disliked him.

DeSantis failed on both counts. He never successfully articulated to most Trump supporters why he was a better option, while Republicans looking to ditch the former president split their votes among multiple candidates.

While many major donors threw their support behind DeSantis early on, they began to rebel as early as the summer.

His campaign also suffered other problems.

Several DeSantis allies say the governor waited too long to become a candidate, finally throwing his hat into the ring in May, over six months after Trump had done so, leaving him open to blistering attacks by Trump.

When DeSantis did formally launch his White House run in May 2023, it was a glitch-filled disaster on Twitter, now known as X, an inauspicious start for a campaign predicated on the governor’s executive competence.

The campaign overhired, burning through cash at a rapid rate and then outsourced much of the traditional work of a campaign to an outside super PAC, which can accept donations of unlimited size, but cannot coordinate with the campaign itself.

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