How Floridians and others are reacting to DeSantis’ failed campaign

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TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Sunday that he was ending his presidential bid, a decision that came after his distant second-place showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Here’s what Florida politicians — some of whom supported his opponent, former President Donald Trump — and others had to say:

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign

Trump’s presidential campaign put out a statement Sunday saying the campaign was “honored” by DeSantis’ endorsement.

“It is now time for all Republicans to rally behind President Trump to defeat Crooked Joe Biden and end his disastrous presidency,” the campaign said in a statement.

The campaign then called former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, now Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination, “the candidate of the globalists and Democrats.”

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Trump told a reporter that his nickname for DeSantis, “Ron DeSanctimonious,” is “officially retired.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner

Renner, a Republican, endorsed DeSantis and campaigned with him in Iowa leading up to the caucus.

On Sunday, he wrote on social media, “There is no greater governor in America than Ron DeSantis. I am proud to have fought alongside him to achieve major policy victories, and I look forward to his continued leadership for our great state of Florida and our country.”

Florida Democratic Party chairperson Nikki Fried

Fried ran for governor in 2022 but lost in the primary election to Charlie Crist, who then lost to DeSantis by 19 points.

Fried mocked DeSantis for endorsing Trump after dropping out, writing on X: “Already begging for forgiveness from Trump! Pathetic.”

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo

The Naples Republican, who also stumped for DeSantis in Iowa the weekend before the caucus, wrote that she was proud to support him.

“He has a bright future leading our state, and one day our nation,” she wrote on X.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson

Simpson, a Republican who has had a strained relationship with DeSantis, texted a reporter after DeSantis’ announcement that the governor “made the right choice to support President Trump.”

Simpson told a reporter earlier this month that DeSantis, while campaigning in Iowa, was likely regretting vetoing $100 million for a program that helps Florida farmers and ranchers preserve their land.

“Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it? That (veto) was a direct shot at farmers,” Simpson said on the “Deeper Dive with Dara Kam” podcast.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida

Florida’s senior Republican senator had endorsed Trump earlier this month on the Sunday before the Iowa caucuses.

On Sunday, he wrote on X, “One step closer to getting everyone focused on saving our country by helping Trump beat Biden.”

Florida U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz

Gaetz, who was an adviser to DeSantis’ first run for governor, endorsed Trump over DeSantis. He posted on social media: “Welcome Home, Ron! It’s great to have America’s Governor back onside.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

Newsom, a Democrat, debated DeSantis on Fox News in November. On Sunday, he quickly posted a quip about a “fire sale” on DeSantis merchandise.

Florida Congressman Byron Donalds

Donalds was one of the many Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation who endorsed Trump instead of DeSantis. Donalds did attend the governor’s State of the State address on Jan. 9. He said DeSantis’ decision to drop out was the right choice, adding on X that “It’s time to unite behind Donald J. Trump and Make America Great Again!”

Future Florida House Speaker Danny Perez

Perez endorsed Trump. The Republican Miami representative is slated to succeed Renner as House speaker later this year. On Sunday, he called on Republicans “to end this nomination process and stand shoulder to shoulder with President Trump so that we can beat back the radical Biden/Harris agenda that has made our nation less safe, less prosperous and less affordable.”

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis

Patronis, a Republican, had not previously endorsed anyone in the GOP presidential primary, telling Politico that neither Trump nor DeSantis had asked him for his endorsement. After DeSantis dropped out, he posted on X: “Now is the time that all republicans unite behind returning @realdDonaldTrump to the White House. This is the most important election of our lifetimes.”

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida

On Sunday, Weida posted on social media that DeSantis “left it all on the field. From beginning to end, an inspiring model of class and honor. There is no blizzard I wouldn’t suffer.”

Weida, who heads Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, traveled to Iowa to campaign for DeSantis ahead of the caucus like many other Florida lawmakers and agency heads. Weida is a former Trump appointee.

U.S. Rep. Greg Steube of Florida

Steube, who like most of his Florida congressional colleagues endorsed Trump, said on social media that he was glad to see DeSantis headed back to Florida to “finish the job he was re-elected to do & avoid an embarrassing 3rd place finish in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

Steube had said DeSantis never called him during his years in Congress, and has noted that Trump was the first person who called Steube in the hospital after his tree-trimming accident.