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Memes, meatballs and Mickey’s revenge: Reaction to the end of the Ron DeSantis campaign

Critics of Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, are celebrating the lawmaker’s exit from the GOP presidential primary.

Mr DeSantis held off announcing his candidacy for months, sheepishly hinting through word and action that he planned to challenge Donald Trump in the primaries. Chatter in the political press suggested Mr DeSantis could pose a serious threat to Mr Trump’s primary race, but that pressure never materialised.

A week after he was handily beaten by Mr Trump in the Iowa Caucus, Mr DeSantis suspended his campaign and threw his support behind Mr Trump.

Senator John Fetterman celebrated the end of Mr DeSantis’s run by reminding the governor of problems he’s got waiting for him back in his home state of Florida.

“You come at the king, you best not miss,” Mr Fetterman wrote, alongside a picture of Mickey Mouse in a crown and royal robes.

Mr DeSantis attempted to punish Disney for defying him when the entertainment giant refused to back his “Don’t Say Gay” bill. All of his attempts to undermine the Mouse were thwarted by Disney’s lawyers.

Historian Michael Beschloss also referenced the world of film, responding to the end of Mr DeSantis’s campaign with a still from the classic film Sunset Boulevard.

“DeSantis (left) and the ex-President a week from now:,” Mr Beschloss wrote, along with a photo showing the characters Max von Mayerling and Norma Desmond from the film. Mr DeSantis is represented by Max the servant, and Mr Trump is represented by Norma Desmond, the ageing silent film star whose delusions lead her to believe she is still beloved and that the masses still long for her art.

In the film, Max knows Norma is delusional, but feeds into her fantasies to keep her from completely losing her mind.

Another account, Ramble_Rants, shared a similar sentiment. Its post included an edited photo depicting and bent-over Mr DeSantis kissing the ring of Mr Trump.

Governor Gavin Newsom, who has made it very clear he loathes Mr DeSantis, also leaped on the chance to rub salt in the Republican’s wound.

“Fire sale on all Ron DeSantis merch today!” Mr Newsom wrote.

Another user, named “Florida Chris”, shared “all the photos of Ron DeSantis I had on my phone set to music”.

The photos depict Mr DeSantis either looking odd, being embarrassed, or being disrespected across the duration of his campaign. The music accompanying the photos is “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.

Many of the reactions shared several similar themes; Mr DeSantis wearing enormous boots or walking on stilts; Mr DeSantis as a meatball or otherwise referencing “meatball Ron”; Mr DeSantis being bested by Disney; Mr DeSantis laughing like a maniac, and Mr DeSantis submitting to Mr Trump.

Both Mr DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy have dropped out of the race. The former UN ambassador Nikki Haley is the only challenger left in the race polling at more than single digits.

Mr Trump said Mr DeSantis did a “very good job”.

“I just want to thank Ron and congratulate him on doing a very good job,” Mr Trump said after learning Mr DeSantis suspended his campaign. “He was very gracious, and he endorsed me. I appreciate that, and I also look forward to working with Ron.”