DeSantis had returned to Florida following a roller-coaster weekend that included visits in South Carolina before a postponed New Hampshire rally Sunday evening. The campaign also canceled many national television appearances earlier in the day due to a miscommunication with DeSantis' super PAC.
Despite storming across freezing Iowa and New Hampshire without a winter coat, DeSantis was exhausted after weeks on the campaign with no time off. Despite their personal animosity, he endorsed Trump because of his party popularity.
While I disagree with Donald Trump on the coronavirus pandemic and his elevation of Anthony Fauci, he is better than Joe Biden. “That is clear,” said DeSantis, who will finish his second and last term as governor in January 2027. DeSantis, whom Trump has personally chastised for a year, was stunned by the endorsement.
Trump, whose team includes many former DeSantis workers, has seen the assaults as sport rather than strategy. Trump and his advisors have called the governor disloyal for running, insulted his eating habits and attitude, and accused him of wearing high heels to gain height.
DeSantis' team joined Trump in criticizing Haley after his resignation. Haley, who divided Republican votes and prevented Trump from facing her, may not gain from DeSantis' decision. “She will not be the nominee,” DeSantis backer Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told AP. “She will not be US president.” Trump had been focusing on Haley for weeks, but minutes after DeSantis' declaration, his team produced a letter emphasizing Haley's need to win New Hampshire.
With 48 hours until the primary, the tone has changed greatly. “We see it, you see it, but make no mistake, if Nikki Haley loses in New Hampshire—there are only two options,” wrote senior advisors Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles. “Option A: Nikki Haley drops out, supports Trump, and defeats Joe Biden,” they wrote. “Option B: Nikki Haley prepares to be absolutely DEMOLISHED and EMBARRASSED in her home state of South Carolina,” votes Feb. 24.
“Now, for some important advice,” they said. Choose wisely.” A video obtained by his team shows Trump discussing DeSantis' departure at Manchester campaign headquarters immediately after it was disclosed. “We just heard that Ron DeSantis, a capable opponent, is dropping out. And Ron is dropping out and supporting us,” Trump said to cheers, prompting a “Trump!” chant from volunteers.
Questioned about using the term “Ron DeSanctimonious,” he said, “I said that name is officially retired,” to loud cheers. Nearby, DeSantis' devastated supporters met quietly in the Manchester restaurant where he was due to speak
Rep. James Spillane of Deerfield originally supported Trump, then DeSantis, and now Trump. "I had a suspicion this morning, and I told some friends that the way I was hearing things shake out, I thought this was going to happen, and I was right," he added. “Unfortunately, DeSantis will fail. However, ideally we can find a solution in 2028.