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21 Jan, 2024 21:16

Trump's top rival drops out of US presidential race

Ron DeSantis has endorsed former president Donald Trump just two days before the New Hampshire state primary
Trump's top rival drops out of US presidential race

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis shut down his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Sunday, endorsing the party’s frontrunner, former US president Donald Trump, just two days before New Hampshire votes in the country’s second primary.

DeSantis announced his exit from the race in a video posted on X (formerly Twitter), accompanying the footage with a quote from former UK prime minister Winston Churchill that left the door open to another run: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Acknowledging there was no “clear path to victory” following his second-place finish in Iowa, where he lost to Trump by some 30 points, DeSantis reasoned that Trump was a better choice for commander-in-chief than incumbent President Joe Biden – or the next Republican runner-up, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis explained, insisting, “If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome –more campaign stops, more interviews – I would do it.”

The Florida governor is term-limited, meaning he will be leaving the statehouse in January 2027 – just in time for another run at the Oval Office.

Former biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy also endorsed Trump after suspending his own presidential campaign earlier this month, having finished fourth with 8% of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.

Trump has not revealed his choice of running mate for 2024, and some X users speculated that DeSantis was angling for the job by minimizing his differences with the reality TV star-turned-politician while attacking his strongest Republican competitor Haley, whose platform he described as “warmed-over corporatism.” 

The Republican frontrunner’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., had put DeSantis – along with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and one-time Republican candidate Ben Carson – forward as a potential vice presidential pick last week. The elder Trump did not explicitly rule out the possibility when asked about it last year.