Ron DeSantis is facing a similar kind of mockery he previously aimed at his competitors for “kissing the ring” of former President Donald Trump.
“You can be the most worthless Republican in America, but if you kiss the ring, he'll say you're wonderful,” the Florida governor said in Ankeny, Iowa ahead of the state’s caucuses. “You can be the strongest, most dynamic, successful Republican and conservative in America, but if you don't kiss that ring, then he’ll try to trash you. You know what? You deserve a nominee that's going to put you first, not himself first.”
After dropping out of the race on Sunday, Mr DeSantis turned around and endorsed Mr Trump himself.
“Ron DeSantis just kissed the ring,” Mr Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, wrote on X.
Podcaster Julie Roginsky predicted Mr DeSantis’s endorsement of Mr Trump, writing on 15 January: “Pin this tweet for when DeSantis drops, immediately kisses Trump’s ring and basks in the glow of Trump’s approval.”
“Guess who just kissed the ring on his way out….they are all pathetic,” comedian Dana Goldberg added.
Former GOP senate staffer Amanda Carpenter wrote on 15 January, “There needs to be a word or phrase to describe how candidates, mostly out of frustration, finally get honest when it’s too late,” in reference to Mr DeSantis’s pre-Iowa comments about Mr Trump.
Democratic strategist Joe Trippi noted: “As DeSantis exit proves no one leaves the race because they can’t win. They leave the race because they are out of money. Whatever the result in NH there is only one knockout blow - running out of money.”
Former MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan added: “Trump called Ted Cruz’s wife ugly & his dad a murderer. Cruz endorsed him. Trump suggested Ron DeSantis groomed high school kids. DeSantis endorsed him. Next up: Trump mocked Nikki Haley’s Indian first name & questioned her eligibility for President. You know what’s coming.”
Mr DeSantis dropped out of the race on Sunday after failing to convince Republican primary voters that it was time to move on from Mr Trump, endorsing the former president on his way out.
The Florida governor, 45, appeared at the beginning of the race to be the top challenger to Mr Trump after having won re-election in the Sunshine State in a landslide.
But some, such as former GOP strategist and Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson, always saw his campaign as a doomed effort.
“I said as early as in the spring of 2021 that Ron DeSantis was the most overpriced stock in American politics,” he told The Independent late last year. “He didn’t win in Florida by some magical gift of his own, he inherited the best Republican machine in the country – it elected him, he didn’t win – he was hustled in there on the backs of 30 years of Republican dominance in the state and an infinite amount of money.”
Calling Mr DeSantis “the opposite of political charisma”, Mr Wilson added that “the initial idea of Ron DeSantis being a great campaigner was rapidly put to the test and discovered to be a lie”.
Weeks before the end of the DeSantis campaign, Mr Wilson said the governor is “without a question, the worst-performing, best-funded primary candidate I’ve seen in a long time”.