And then there were two
DeSantis drops out
When we Racketeers recorded our most recent podcast episode last Friday, I said that Ron DeSantis’s campaign was crumbling. Little did I know how right I was. I predicted that DeSantis would drop out shortly after the New Hampshire primary. As it turns out, he didn’t make it to New Hampshire, instead announcing the end of his campaign on Sunday. The DeSantis campaign ended as it started: On the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“He [Donald Trump] has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear,” DeSantis told supporters in a video posted to the website formerly known as Twitter as he endorsed the old Republican guard who was the nominee in the last two presidential elections.
Clarifying the confusion, DeSantis added that he meant the “repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”
“Now, following our second-place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward,” DeSantis explained. “If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it. But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources. We don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.”
“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis continued.
DeSantis’s announcement throws a curveball into the New Hampshire primary, which takes place on Tuesday. Less than two weeks ago, I wrote about Chris Christie’s departure and looked at polls that showed the second choices of Republican voters. Those same polls showed that Donald Trump was the second choice of a plurality of DeSantis voters nationally, but the breakdown was more even in New Hampshire.
When only New Hampshire voters were considered, DeSantis’s supporters split between Trump (35 percent) and Haley (32 percent) as a second choice. The rub for Haley is that 17 percent of DeSantis voters liked Ramaswamy, who is now out of the race, and Ramaswamy voters tended to flock to Trump.
There is a new data point, however. A CNN/University of New Hampshire poll was released just before the DeSantis announcement. The top line of the poll showed Trump at 50 percent, Haley at 39, and DeSantis at six percent.
Ironically, the new poll shows that DeSantis was the second-choice candidate with 43 percent of respondents picking him as their fallback candidate. Donald Trump was the second choice of 12 percent and Haley of six percent. Twenty-one percent said they wouldn’t vote if their primary choice dropped out and 13 percent didn’t know who their Plan B would be.
Based on all this data, it seems that Trump stands to gain more than Haley from DeSantis’s departure. That conclusion is buttressed by DeSantis’s endorsement of Donald Trump on his way out the door.
And that probably explains the timing of DeSantis’s departure. By exiting before New Hampshire and throwing his support to Trump, DeSantis is undoubtedly hoping that The Former Guy will appreciate his effort to undermine Nikki Haley and reward him with a prominent position in the second Trump Administration.
The office of the vice president is probably dancing before DeSantis’s eyes. I’m sure he’s thinking that if he’s on the ticket with Trump this year he will be the logical Republican choice in 2028, regardless of whether Trump wins or loses.
DeSantis and others who are cozying up to Trump would do well to remember the trail of convictions, indictments, broken careers, and broken people that has been left in Trump’s wake. And that’s just his friends.
I’m sure that Mike Pence made a similar calculation in 2016.
I asked a few days ago, “Can Nikki Haley win?” At this point, the answer is no, it would take a miracle. The entire Republican Party is arrayed against her with Donald Trump at its head.
As I’ve said in the past, the new Republican Party is the Trump™ Republican Party. He bought it. He owns it. Any resemblance to the pre-2016 Republican Party is purely coincidental and probably won’t last much longer.
I’ll leave you with a flashback to last week when Ron DeSantis was still talking tough. In a video posted on January 14, 2024, Desantis crowed, “You can be the most worthless Republican in America, but if you kiss the ring he’ll [Trump] say you’re wonderful.”
I’d say that’s what DeSantis is counting on this week.
DESANTIS BYE-KU: Continuing our stolen tradition of marking the exit of candidates with a haiku, I humbly offer a bye-ku for Ron DeSantis:
A Florida man
Learned the futility of
Hitting Trump from right
NIKKI ON THE ATTACK: Nikki Haley is attacking Donald Trump’s mental fitness after The Former Guy repeatedly confused her with Nancy Pelosi at a campaign rally last week. Haley’s attacks will probably be too little too late at this point, but similar attacks might have made a difference if she had started months ago.
This week’s incident is merely one of several recent gaffes in which Trump was confused. Republicans have attacked President Biden for similar moments.
Watch the clip below and judge for yourself.
RACKET NEWS PODCAST: If you missed our most recent podcast, listen before the New Hampshire primary. Or after. I really don’t, care just listen to it and let us know what you think.
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