MANCHESTER, NH – On Sunday morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called some of his closest advisers to the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee for a final talk about the future of his presidential campaign.
DeSantis and his wife, Casey, then left the counselors to have a private conversation at an upstairs residence. They decided he would pull the plug on a campaign with no reasonable path forward. By the time they returned to the counselors, DeSantis had written the lines that would form part of it announced that he has stopped his campaign.
The discussions at the governor’s mansion were the culmination of a conversation between DeSantis and his advisers that began last week. Monday night, shortly after he distanced himself from former President Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, one of DeSantis’ most prominent supporters, traveled to Tallahassee for the latest round of debates, helping DeSantis weigh the merits of dropping out and the pros and cons of a Trump endorsement ahead of the New Hampshire primary. , according to people familiar with his role.
Reached by phone Sunday night, Roy said he “spoke with the governor constantly” during the campaign and thought he “made the right move” to cut the campaign short and endorse Trump. He declined to provide details of his conversations with DeSantis.
DeSantis had hoped to make his primary fight against Trump and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley this week. He entered the New Hampshire primary and South Carolina, where his advisers believed he would have a chance to stretch at least over the next month.
But the money was drying up. His campaign and its allied super PACs failed to raise enough to make up for the tens of millions of dollars spent on an empty bid to win Iowa. DeSantis He wanted to understand what happened in Iowa and why – and what was his outlook on the upcoming states on the calendar. He asked questions to the advisers while continuing the campaign.
DeSantis toured the East Coast for several days, popping in and out of South Carolina, New Hampshire and Florida without doing anything. significant change in fate. Apparent decisions to focus on South Carolina at the expense of New Hampshire were signaled to the press, retracted, and then reversed. All the while, polls showed him in the single digits in New Hampshire, far behind both Trump and Haley, and South Carolina didn’t look much better.
“Information gaps were closed” on Thursday, according to a person familiar with DeSantis’ discussions. But DeSantis wanted to visit with his constituents one more time, and he traveled to New Hampshire and South Carolina for one last look at voters. After his final event in South Carolina on Saturday, he headed home to Tallahassee, where he will make his final call.
Hours before announcing his decision to drop out of the campaign, he canceled scheduled Sunday appearances on television shows, including NBC’s “Meet the Press,” prompting allies and foes alike to conclude he was on his way out.
“Everybody wanted to stay all the way to South Carolina, but it’s been so hard to raise money and it’s not going to be easy,” said the DeSantis adviser.
DeSantis announced his departure in a column in X, which also endorsed Trump.
“They obviously have big policy differences, but he sees Nicky as a corporate salesman and a globalist and agrees with Trump philosophically outside of Covid,” the adviser said. “As far as he was concerned, that decision had to be made.”
During the campaign, DeSantis criticized Trump for issuing federal regulations social distancing and masking and for that promoting vaccines in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But there was consensus among his inner circle that supporting Trump was the right thing to do, three people familiar with their views said.
The decision was kept within a close circle of advisers until the announcement: One of the campaign’s surrogates, donor Dan Eberhart, was on his way to New Hampshire when he learned the campaign was over. Several other DeSantis campaign aides and super PACs said they were not notified in advance.
According to a senior Trump adviser, neither DeSantis nor his advisers had any talks or discussions with Trump’s team.
“There was none,” the Trump adviser said.
The criticism didn’t come as a surprise to DeSantis allies, but the timing did.
“I’m not shocked,” Eberhart said. “I thought he would be the best president, but he wasn’t the best candidate.”
DeSantis, who at one point appeared to be a serious threat to Trump’s third consecutive nomination, took the former president’s attacks for months before entering the race in May. His first steps on the campaign trail included numerous awkward encounters with voters and the news media in Iowa and New Hampshire.
He was mocked by Trump’s camp for a tech glitch that hit his campaign on what was then called Twitter Spaces. reportedly eats pudding with his fingers and for wearing heeled boots that gave her a few extra inches of height.
Trump regularly derided him as “Ron DeSantimonious.”
DeSantis’ poll numbers began to slide amid the early attacks, and some Republican voters rallied to Trump after he was indicted in a hush money affair in New York, followed by indictments in three other jurisdictions.
Although more comfortable in the latter stages of the campaign, as well as during the debate stage, DeSantis was unable to overcome a series of strategic, tactical and rhetorical mistakes.
DeSantis’ over the summer, the campaign overspent and had to cut staff. He has outsourced much of the work for his campaign to a super PAC called Never Back Down, which has funneled more than $80 million in statewide campaign funds to it. Unable to legally coordinate, the campaign and super PAC collided. A cash campaign eventually replaced it original chief, Generra Peck, with Uthmeier.
In the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses, with Haley surging nationally and in early state polls, DeSantis and his team began moving the goalposts. Where they once declared they would win Iowa, the goal became a strong second place finish, finally avoiding an embarrassing third place showing.
When DeSantis overcame late voting to finish second in Iowa, he vowed to soldier on—hopefully he could unseat Haley and go one-on-one with Trump himself. In the end, it will be Haley who will hit Trump like he did only serious competitor.
Florida Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, who is among DeSantis’ closest allies there and campaigned for him in Iowa, told NBC News he was surprised by the timing of DeSantis’ departure Sunday afternoon. But the news itself was not like that.
“Although this is not his time,” Ingoglia said, “I have complete confidence in his ability and passion to continue fighting not only for Floridians, but for the greatness of the United States of America.”
Many of DeSantis’ allies believe he will return in 2028, when there won’t be an incumbent or a natural force, the multi-term Republican nominee, standing in his way.
Meanwhile, a source familiar with DeSantis’ schedule said he is spending time with family in Florida. There is no current He said they plan to campaign with Trump.