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DeSantis drops out despite having his ‘ticket punched out of Iowa’

Republican+presidential+candidate+Florida+Gov.+Ron+Desantis+sits+and+reads+a+program+before+the+Iowa+Corn+Cy-Hawk+Series+football+game+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+9%2C+2023%2C+at+Jack+Trice+Stadium+in+Ames.
Daniel Jacobi II
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron Desantis sits and reads a program before the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series football game on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced from the Sunshine State Sunday that he was suspending his presidential campaign after stating that he had his “ticket punched out of Iowa” on caucus night despite not winning one county.

“I am going to get the job done for this country,” DeSantis told supporters in Des Moines Tuesday after placing second in the Iowa Caucus. “I am not going to make any excuses and I will guarantee this, I will not let you down.”

DeSantis said Sunday it is clear the “majority of Republican primary voters” support former President Donald Trump.

“I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory,” DeSantis said from Tallahassee, Florida.

The decision leaves former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as the only major opponent to former President Donald Trump, which DeSantis also mentioned in his video message.

“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.

He added that he would abide by the pledge he signed, which was required to participate in primary debates, to support whoever the nominee is.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s polling aggregate, DeSantis was in a distant third place averaging near 5% in polls for New Hampshire’s Tuesday primary.

DeSantis’ performance in Iowa and subsequent withdrawal from the race may shed insight into the state of Iowa’s Republican political industry. Gov. Kim Reynolds became the first Iowa Governor since 1996 when Gov. Terry Branstad endorsed Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, who won.

While Branstad did not make another presidential endorsement in office, he did discourage caucusing for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2016. In addition to Reynolds, DeSantis received 40 endorsements from the Iowa Legislature totaling a plurality of Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate.

Despite the legislative support, the governor of the Sunshine State received a cold welcome from Iowa caucus-goers where endorsements were not enough to defeat the former president.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, left, and Republican presidential candidate Perry Johnson, right, smile during the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 23rd Annual Fall Banquet Presidential Town Hall on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. (Daniel Jacobi II)

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird was the only endorsement from the Iowa executive cabinet for Trump who also was endorsed by 21 members of the legislature. Trump told supporters after winning the Iowa Caucus that Bird could be a future governor of Iowa.

While endorsements did not appear to correlate to success for DeSantis, neither did a thousand-piece puzzle in his aligned super PAC Never Back Down’s office in West Des Moines. According to NBC News, the super PAC spent tens of millions of dollars building a ground game in Iowa which included 1,500 precinct captains while the person in charge, Scott Wagner, was building a puzzle.

A Never Back Down staffer told NBC News that Wagner spent “hours” piecing together the puzzle throughout the final week before the Iowa Caucuses.

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