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Ron DeSantis ends 2024 US Election run

Presidential contender Ron DeSantis, who was once viewed as Republicans’ best shot at moving past Donald Trump, has dropped out of the primary race for the White House.

Mr DeSantis, 45, endorsed Mr Trump in a video posted to the X social media site.

Mr DeSantis had been widely seen as a top contender for the 2024 Republican nomination and a natural heir to Mr Trump due to his combative style and deeply conservative views.

Early in 2023, he led several head-to-head polls against Mr Trump.

But the Florida governor’s support has been declining for several months, due to flawed campaign strategy, his seeming lack of ease with voters on the campaign trail and Mr Trump’s so far unshakeable hold on much of the party’s base.

The end of Mr DeSantis’ bid means that former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is now the last Republican in the race with a shot of denying Mr Trump the nomination.

The winner of the Republican nominating contest will take on President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, in the general election in November.

More than 70% of Republicans have a favourable opinion of Mr Trump, according to most opinion polls.

That put Mr DeSantis in a position where he had to appeal to voters that still admired Mr Trump, as well as those who passionately disliked him.

Mr 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.

Ms Haley, in particular, has been emerged as the favourite among moderate Republicans as the field has consolidated.

Mr DeSantis endorsed Donald Trump’s campaign

Where Mr DeSantis differed from Mr Trump on policy, it was almost always to stake out a more conservative position.

He signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida in April, which he eventually embraced on the campaign trail, even as it made some donors and moderate Republicans wary.

Mr DeSantis opposed additional US military assistance to Ukraine and took punitive actions against the Walt Disney Company after the company spoke out against Florida legislation that limited discussion of gender and sexuality in classrooms.

The Disney fight was one that pro-business critics within the party said Mr DeSantis did not need to wage.

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

Robert Bigelow, who gave millions to the super PAC (political action committee) fundraising group backing Mr DeSantis, told Reuters in August he was cutting off funding, turned off by the governor’s uncompromising position on abortion.

Mr DeSantis’ troubles began before he ever entered the race.

Nikki Haley is now the last Republican in the race with a shot of denying Mr Trump the nomination

In March, when Mr Trump was indicted in New York on charges he conspired to conceal hush money payments to a porn star, the former president received a significant bump in the polls as Republicans rallied around him.

Many of them believed Mr Trump’s claims that law enforcement officials were targeting him to keep him out of office.

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 Mr Trump had done so.

That left Mr DeSantis open to blistering attacks by Mr Trump, while the governor himself did little to defend himself, insisting he was not a candidate.

When Mr 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 then overhired, burning through cash at a rapid rate. Mr DeSantis let go of some 38 staffers in July and ousted his campaign manager in August, sowing a narrative of internal chaos that proved hard to shake.

He 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.

The campaign and the PAC, known as Never Back Down, came to distrust one another.

A series of back-to-back departures of senior staffers from the PAC in November and December created a sense of turmoil that furthered the narrative that the governor’s campaign was mortally wounded.

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