Florida Governor and hard-right, anti-LGBTQ+ politician Ron DeSantis has officially dropped out of the presidential race and put his support behind Donald Trump.
The signator of Florida’s deeply controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill announced his plans to suspend his campaign for Republican presidential nomination on Sunday night (21 January) – just two days before the New Hampshire primary.
Polling placed DeSantis as a distant third in this week’s primary, following far behind both Donald Trump and Nikki Haley.
Announcing the move in a video posted to X (formerly Twitter), DeSantis told his supporters that he had decided to drop out because there was not a “clear path to victory.”
He told viewers: “I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources when we don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.”
Throwing his support behind Trump as his dodgy seven-month campaign came to an end, DeSantis acknowledged his “disagreements” with the disgraced former president but said that Trump was still “superior to the current incumbent Joe Biden.”
As for Haley, DeSantis described Trump’s only major remaining opponent as a member of “the old Republican guard of yesteryear, repackaged in the form of warmed-over corporatism.”
In response, Haley celebrated DeSantis’s dropping out in a room full of voters, declaring: “May the best woman win.”
Just last week, DeSantis had pledged to his supporters that he would be the next president of the United States – despite flopping in all polls and placing far behind Donald Trump at the Iowa caucuses.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do but I can tell you this, as the next president of the United States I am going to get the job done for this country,” he told the cheering crowd after earning just 21.2 per cent of votes in Iowa, compared to Trump’s 51 per cent.
“I am not going to make any excuses and I guarantee you this: I will not let you down.”
DeSantis’s failure to follow through on that promise has come as a relief to LGBTQ+ activists and advocates, who had feared what might happen to the already marginalised community if the Florida governor had been able to introduce more widespread anti-queer bills.
The Don’t Say Gay bill was intiially signed into law by DeSantis in March 2022, to prohibit public elementary school teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom. It has since been extend to cover high school education.
During his time as governor, DeSantis has also approved the removal of books with LGBTQ+ themes, characters or subject matter from schools, banned AP African American studies from state high schools, signed a six-week abortion ban into law, signed a transgender youth sports ban into law, and blocked access to gender-affirming care for transgender and gender non-conforming minors.
DeSantis’s withdrawal announcement comes just says after that of Vivek Ramaswamy, a fellow former Republican candidate who had heavily relied on his anti-LGBTQ+ ideals to carry him to victory.