Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday suspended his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, clearing the way for Nikki Haley to consolidate GOP voters looking for an alternative to former President Donald Trump.
“It’s now one fella and one lady left,” Haley told a crowd in Seabrook, N.H., after DeSantis dropped out. “There were 14 people in the race, there were a lots of fellas, all the fellas are out except for this one. And this comes down to: What do you want? Do you want more of the same, or do you want something new?”
The former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador entered the race as the lone woman among prominent GOP candidates, polling in the single digits as DeSantis appeared like the strongest challenger to Trump. With just days until the New Hampshire primary, Haley is now the last Republican standing against Trump.
Haley made history in Iowa as the first woman to win more than one delegate in the Republican presidential primary, and her third-place finish in the Hawkeye State puts her closer to the nation’s highest office than any other Republican woman before her. But, heading into the New Hampshire primary, recent polls show Haley trailing Trump by an average of 15 points in the Granite State.
Immediately after suspending his campaign, DeSantis gave his endorsement to Trump, saying, “Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear,” in a video on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Trump “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,” DeSantis said in the video.
DeSantis’s campaign ended after a second-place showing in Iowa, the first election in the presidential race and the state where he had invested the most time and resources. Iowans heaped support on front-runner Trump, who attracted 51 percent of the vote.
The Florida governor focused heavily on fighting “woke ideology.” He railed against books and classroom curriculum that include LGBTQ+ people and systemic racism in Florida schools, and strongly opposed trangender students playing in sports that align with their gender identity. During his campaign, DeSantis defended the release of social studies standards that argued that some enslaved Africans personally benefited from slavery.
DeSantis also ran as a strong opponent to abortion rights, and as he was gearing up to formally enter the presidential race, he successfully pushed for a six-week abortion ban that could significantly curtail access to the procedure in the South. The ban has not gone into effect, pending a state Supreme Court ruling.
Tally McBride, a New Hampshire voter who showed up at a Milford, N.H., restaurant to see Haley on Friday, said she did not consider supporting DeSantis. McBride homeschools her children but said she didn’t like legislation he championed that has seen books removed from schools and libraries because of content mentioned LGBTQ+ people, sexuality or systemic racism.
“Some of his policies don’t allow for enough parental control,” she said. “I think that libraries should be able to have whatever books they want. And parents should know what their kids take out of the library.”
The latest Suffolk University poll of New Hampshire, where independents are set to play a role in the outcome and where DeSantis spent comparatively little time campaigning, showed him in the single digits. Haley has spent a lot of her campaign in the Granite State, hoping to create a winning coalition of conservatives ready to move on from Trump and conservative-leaning independent voters. A win or a close second-place finish would be seen as critical momentum for her campaign.
Haley is not competing in Nevada, the next state to vote, so now attention will turn to South Carolina, her home state, where Trump is polling significantly ahead. South Carolinavotes on February 24.