Ron DeSantis Blames 'Checked Out' Iowa Voters for Tanking His 2024 Campaign in First Interview After Exiting Race

The far-right Florida governor claims that most Republican voters he encountered liked him, but felt like they "owed Trump another shot"

<p>AP Photo/Meg Kinnard</p> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event on July 17, 2023

AP Photo/Meg Kinnard

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event on July 17, 2023

Ron DeSantis is opening up for the first time since suspending his presidential campaign over the weekend.

On Tuesday, in his first post-campaign interview on The Steve Deace Show, the far-right politician, 45, cited unenthusiastic, “checked out” voters as the No. 1 reason for his campaign’s failure.

The Florida governor said he “kept running into voters” who liked him and his policies, but felt like they “owed Trump another shot.”

“They were conservative, but they did not want to see Trump nominated again, but they had basically been told that it was inevitable, that it was over. ‘Why even bother?’” DeSantis said.

Related: Ron DeSantis Ends 2024 Campaign Using Fake Winston Churchill Quote

Reflecting on people who have supported Donald Trump despite not being particularly fond of him, DeSantis named Iowa caucusgoers specifically, calling them “checked out.”

Republican voters in the state “just totally dropped out of the process,” he added.

<p>Brandon Bell/Getty</p> Donald Trump.

Brandon Bell/Getty

Donald Trump.

The former presidential candidate also cited a “rallying effect” Trump, 77, experienced following his many headline-making indictments.

“I think he had strong support from Fox and conservative media, and so structurally, that was just something that was very difficult to deal with,” he said, noting that he attempted to combat it with an “on-the-ground” approach in Iowa.

Added DeSantis: “We did do a good job with that, but I think there were so many people who weren’t even checked into the process.”

When asked about a potential 2028 presidential run, DeSantis said that “if we have a country left” by then, he may consider running again.

Related: New Republican Primary Poll Puts Ron DeSantis in Fifth Place, as Long Shot Trump Challengers Get a Boost

<p>Sipa via AP Images</p> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Policy Conference in D.C.

Sipa via AP Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Policy Conference in D.C.

DeSantis did not cite any other reasons (such as his controversial Florida laws and very public battle with Disney, both of which earned him nationwide criticism) while discussing his campaign's downfall.

Also unmentioned was the frequent ribbing he received from fellow politicians, namely Trump, as well as online, where his awkward and “sassy” campaign behavior was consistently memed.

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DeSantis suspended his 2024 presidential campaign — and endorsed Trump — on Sunday.

“Following our second-place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward,” DeSantis said in a video shared on X (formerly Twitter). “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."

He continued, "We don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign."

“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance,” DeSantis then noted, adding: “He has my endorsement because we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that Nikki Haley represents.”

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