And another one gone…
Just two days before the New Hampshire primary, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended his presidential campaign. He made the announcement via a pre-recorded video posted to X on Sunday, in which he also endorsed former President Donald Trump.
On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Emily Jashinsky, host of The Federalist Radio Hour, and Eliana Johnson, editor-in-chief of The Washington Free Beacon, to discuss DeSantis’ run and what it means for his future in national politics.
Despite declaring that he “got [his] ticket punched out of Iowa” after his second-place finish in last week’s caucus, the DeSantis campaign didn’t make it to Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Mirroring how he kicked off his campaign, he shared the news on X.
The four-minute video was accompanied by a Winston Churchill quote. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts,” the caption read. In the clip, DeSantis ticked off his accomplishments as governor and the tenets of his campaign, but he made it clear his run had run its course:
“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 if we don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.”
In closing, DeSantis spoke of his leadership. “Down here in Florida, we will continue to show the country how to lead,” he concluded. “Thank you, and God bless.”
While Johnson called DeSantis’ remarks and exit “dignified,” Megyn thought they highlighted one of the larger issues of his campaign. “I don’t want to kick them out man when he’s down, but I also can’t help but be reminded of the reasons why he didn’t connect,” she noted. “Maybe if Ron DeSantis had thrown out the teleprompter and just done that last bit from the heart, it would have resonated more. I’ve spoken to him personally… and he actually can be warm and he can be very funny.”
DeSantis Endorses Trump
The Florida governor was polling in the single digits in the Granite State, though many believed he had his sights set on a more competitive finish in the South Carolina primary next month. Even so, it did not look like he could catch up to Trump – something DeSantis alluded to when endorsing the frontrunner:
“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance. They watched his presidency get stymied by relentless resistance, and they see Democrats using lawfare this day to attack him. I’ve had disagreements with Donald Trump, such as the coronavirus pandemic… Trump is superior to the incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear. I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge. He has my endorsement because we can not go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”
For his part, the former president said he was “very honored” to have DeSantis’ endorsement and is looking forward “to working together with him to beat Joe Biden, who is the worst and most corrupt president in the history of our country.”
Megyn believes it’s the right message from the GOP frontrunner. “Good for Trump… They’ve been stuck in the mud a bit as the campaign got more into the voting phase,” she said. “But I do think… Republican [voters] would love… to see the party come behind somebody and get on with the fight against Joe Biden.”
DeSantis’ Political Future
In Megyn’s view, now was the time for DeSantis to exit the race. “After Iowa, it didn’t seem much of a mystery that there was no path for him,” she explained. “He said he earned his ticket out of Iowa, but there really was no ticket to be earned with a 30-point second place deficit. I think he did the right thing. I don’t see any point in him having stayed longer than this.”
While DeSantis has a strong conservative record to run on, his candidacy didn’t seem to resonate in an election cycle that also featured Trump. Megyn believes his communication style is partly to blame. “I would love to just hear him just without anybody else having interfered, without a teleprompter speech,” she said. “I hope the guy’s got a future.”
Jashinsky noted that she recently spoke with a “very smart consultant friend” who reminded her that what works in state politics doesn’t always translate on the national level. “When you’re voting for governor, you’re voting pragmatically, you want someone to get things done,” she recalled. “When you’re voting for president, you tend to vote inspirationally for somebody… who can do well on those sort of big abstract questions about the direction of the country.”
She believes the experience of the 2024 campaign could prove beneficial for DeSantis down the line. “If you’re conservative, the thrust of what Ron DeSantis has done legislatively… in Florida is good and so I think now that he can be back in that space… where he really excels and where voters seem to respond to him… that’s good for Ron DeSantis and an opportunity for him to maybe rework the national stuff,” she concluded. “Maybe he can get better coaching or less coaching and just be himself, be comfortable, and come back in 2028.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Jashinksy and Johnson by tuning in to episode 707 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.