Primary election campaign One less competitor for Trump – DeSantis gives up

The fight for the Republican presidential nomination turns into a duel surprisingly early on. What does Ron DeSantis’ withdrawal mean for Trump’s chances of success against his last opponent?

Surprising turnaround in the Republican primary campaign: Ron DeSantis has withdrawn from the internal party race to run for the US presidential election and pledged his support to the favorite Donald Trump. This means that in Tuesday’s primary election in the state of New Hampshire there will be a duel between the former president and his last remaining competitor Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina.

However, Haley is given little chance of making up the significant gap to Trump in the polls. The former US president, who wants to move back into the White House, sees his position strengthened by DeSantis’ withdrawal. A new edition of the election campaign between Trump and the Democratic incumbent Joe Biden in the presidential election in November is becoming increasingly likely.

“I cannot ask our supporters for their time and donations when there is no clear path to victory for us,” DeSantis said in a video posted to Platform X this afternoon. “That’s why I’m ending my election campaign today.” Florida’s ultra-conservative governor was around 30 percentage points behind Trump in the Republicans’ first preliminary decision in Iowa and came in second place just ahead of Haley. Now DeSantis, who agitated against Trump for months and accused him of incompetence, is backing his previous competitor: “He has my support because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard,” DeSantis said in the video. This also includes Nikki Haley.

The former US ambassador to the UN immediately commented on the surprise withdrawal at a campaign event in New Hampshire: “Boy, things are changing fast,” she said to cheering supporters. “Now there’s one guy and one lady left.” There were a lot of guys in the race for the Republican nomination. Then Haley addressed the voters: “Now it’s about what you want!”

Haley and Trump in attack mode

Haley had already intensified her verbal attacks against Trump on Saturday and questioned the 77-year-old’s suitability for another term in office. “I don’t want to sound derogatory,” she said. “But when you’re dealing with the pressures of a presidency, we can’t have someone second where we have to wonder if they’re mentally capable.” Incumbent Biden is 81 years old, which is why many within the Democratic Party do not consider him to be the ideal candidate.

Haley responded to Trump’s statements during a campaign event. There he spoke on Friday about the attacks on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 and apparently repeatedly confused his intra-party rival with the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the then chairman of the US House of Representatives.

Recently, Trump had increased the tone of his verbal attacks against Haley and called the daughter of Indian immigrants “Nimbra” – in reference to her birth name Nimarata Nikki Randhawa. This approach is reminiscent of Trump’s incitement against former President Barack Obama. At the time, Trump questioned his qualifications for the highest state office by claiming that the first black US president with the middle name Hussein was born in Kenya. Obama was born in the US state of Hawaii. As was the case then, Trump is now being accused of deliberately fomenting racist resentment.

On Sunday, Trump thanked DeSantis for his support and then went back to attacking his remaining challenger. Haley is “the globalist candidate,” his campaign team said in a statement. She represents the views of Democrats rather than Republicans.

In the New Hampshire primary, Haley could actually benefit from a more moderate electorate. The supporters of the 45-year-old DeSantis, who has strategically positioned himself as a hard-right doer in recent years, are more likely to flock to Trump.

The failure of DeSantis

After a successful re-election as governor of Florida in November 2022, it looked for a few months as if the culture war in the USA was coming to DeSantis’s advantage: the tactic of the smart graduate of the renowned Harvard Law School and ex-Navy member was to use a radical approach to hot topics right-wing politics in a media-effective way and thus unite the conservatives behind them.

As an advocate of a rigid immigration policy, he had migrants from Texas flown to the island of Martha’s Vineyard off the US east coast in 2022, where a particularly large number of liberal and wealthy Americans have their summer homes. To differentiate himself from Trump, DeSantis repeatedly referred to his Corona policy in Florida during the election campaign, which had almost no restrictions or state coercion – even if the number of infections increased as a result.

But he was never considered a jovial man of the people and was often accused of lacking charisma: events that brought him in close contact with the electorate quickly seemed uncomfortable to him and small talk was difficult for him. His primary campaign was marked by appearances in TV debates that opponents described as “robotic.”

Whether Haley will see it through to the end or give up early like DeSantis will soon become clear with the results of the upcoming primaries. It is entirely possible that she is hoping to become Trump’s vice president. As the then US ambassador to the United Nations, she was already in Trump’s service and had to represent his confrontational foreign policy on the diplomatic stage as president. Haley also emphasized that she was a match for him at the working level: “I remember how I used to take him aside at the United Nations and tell him to end this ‘bromance’ with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” said them to the broadcaster CBS. “A president should not try to befriend dictators.”