Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ended his run for the Republican nomination over the weekend with a video message posted to X announcing that he was throwing his support behind former president Donald Trump, who’s ahead in the polls by a tidy double-digit margin with the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.
“Following our second-place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward. If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome … I would do it, but 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. “Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.”
DeSantis then immediately endorsed Trump for the Republican nomination, saying that it was clear to him that “the majority of Republican primary voters want to give … [him] another chance.”
Despite DeSantis’ Trump endorsement, Trump supporters went for the jugular against pro-DeSantis influencers on X.
“We can take the votes of DeSantis supporters but @RonDeSantis is done,” posted pro-Trump online attack dog Laura Loomer. “His supporters should humble themselves, vote for Trump, and be grateful for President Trump. @RonDeSantis is a globalist … He can’t ever be allowed to have another chance.”
“Traitors will never be given second chances,” she wrote in another post in response to pro-Trump Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) thanking DeSantis for his Trump endorsement.
“He endorses Trump too. It’s totally over for DeSantis’s influencers,” wrote Scott Greer, a far-right podcast host who used to be an editor for the Daily Caller, in reaction to DeSantis’ video announcing his campaign suspension.
“That was actually a decent speech, his supporters are more off putting than him,” posted @booriley0.
DeSantis supporters reacted with various levels of equanimity and disgust to the attacks, with some digging in on their DeSantis support, some saying that they’d never vote for Trump, and others saying that it didn’t matter what happened, with Trump as candidate the Republicans would never win now.
“Remember this when Trump loses,” posted @bishopmikey.
“I think … [DeSantis] is a great man and an honorable person,” posted @SwissWatchGuy. “If the GOP prefers Trump to him, then the GOP isn’t worth a damn.”
“Longer term, I think there is going to be immense damage to the conservative movement as a result of how this primary has played out,” he continued, theorizing that the lesson GOP politicians would take from the contest was that there’s no use sticking to conservative values, and that the result of Trump staying the face of the Republican party would be millions of people leaving the party and joining the Democrats, where they would slowly learn and accept the “ideas of the left.”
“Today is a terrible day for conservatives, worse than any mere election loss, because now we know for sure we have no party,” @SwissWatchGuy finished.
Others lamented DeSantis’ downfall, with the reactionary pro-DeSantis polemicist Pedro Gonzalez— whose racist and antisemitic private chats leaked in June—saying that Trump as the standard bearer of the party meant more “pander[ing] to minorities while neglecting white middle Americans.”
“Kiss the ring Pedro,” posted @alcadizzar19 in response to a post from Gonzalez criticizing Trump for supposedly blowing over a billion dollars running against Biden and losing.
Gonzalez responded with a meme of Bugs Bunny saying ‘no.’
The DeSantis-Trump camps have clashed with increasing venom over the past few months, with things coming to a head when former Fox News host Tucker Carlson called DeSantis’ online supporters the “nastiest, stupidest, most zero-sum people” in a panel interview with the pundit Tim Pool in the middle of December.
Pro-DeSantis influencers quickly jumped on those remarks, pointing to a series of vicious online attacks on the DeSantis camp by online Trump surrogates. Trump surrogates quickly pushed back.
“Thank you for making Tucker’s point about your disgusting team. DeSantis campaign staffers will be permanently unemployed in politics come March,” promised Alex Bruesewitz, a Republican political consultant who runs a political agency called X Strategies and backs Trump.
After DeSantis’ announcement that he was dropping out, the hardline New York Young Republican Club put out a statement ripping into DeSantis.
“A lesson for DeSantis,” read the title. “Loyalty Counts.”
“Rather than stand by Trump’s side … the below-average-height governor embarked on what can only be described as a masochistic run for the presidency,” read the statement.
“The New York Young Republican Club firmly and unmistakably rejects DeSantis’s endorsement of Trump. DeSantis is not (and never was) an America-first candidate. Rather, he is a country-club mouthpiece of the neoliberal wing of the GOP who would prefer to go back to the halcyon days of Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor.”
“Don’t be fooled by DeSantis’s appeal to the MAGA movement; he represents nothing more than a reversion to the establishment Republican Party of the early aughts that championed billionaire tax cuts, the sunsetting of Social Security, and unfettered illegal immigration at the southern border.”
“Goodbye to Ron and his nasty online sycophants,” the statement went on. “As Winston Churchill said, ‘[the] truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.’ (Unlike Ron, we used a real Churchill quote.)”
DeSantis was widely dinged for not actually quoting Churchill in his dropping out announcement. Apparently the quote actually came from an old Budweiser ad.
And while the statement from the NYYRC made itself clear, it also added fuel to the fire for the bad blood between Trump and DeSantis boosters.
“There’s something wrong with these people,” commented pro-DeSantis booster John Cardillo. “Very very wrong.”