It might not have been on January 15, like expected, but the DeSantis campaign is finally finished. After canceling major appearances on cable news channels over the weekend, the Florida governor announced the end of his campaign for president.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill pic.twitter.com/ECoR8YeiMm
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) January 21, 2024
“Once considered a leading Republican presidential contender,” noted Business Insider, DeSantis had “fallen slightly behind candidate Nikki Haley and well behind the GOP frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, despite his multiple indictments. The Florida governor’s performance at the Iowa caucus was disappointing and has fueled speculation that his days on the campaign trail are numbered.”
After the Iowa caucuses, the governor put on a brave face, saying, “What we did in Iowa, we did make an impression. I had people come up to me saying, ‘I love you, man. I’m gonna do Trump this time and do you next time.'”
Although it’s been less than 24 hours, reports are already showing how it all went wrong for the conservative governor. NBC News shared details about the complete dysfunction of leadership from Team DeSantis.
Much of it revolved around a jigsaw puzzle.
But in the week before the all-important caucuses, Scott Wagner, the recently installed head of the super PAC, was doing something that aides found puzzling: He was literally doing a puzzle.
In the headquarters of Never Back Down in West Des Moines, Iowa, Wagner was, according to some of his staff, spending a significant amount of time in the precious final few days constructing a peaceful 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a landscape.
In a photo taken on Jan. 9, shared with NBC News by a Never Back Down team member, others in the room were hunched over their laptops.
“Staffers are putting their dedication and devotion to electing Gov. DeSantis and they come in and the CEO, the chairman of the organization, is sitting there working on a puzzle for hours,” said a Never Back Down staffer who was there.
The writing on the wall for the DeSantis campaign was there for a long time. Over Thanksgiving, for example, news broke that the governor’s campaign staff had begun arguing with each other rather than building a strong campaign.
At one point, the New Conservative Post reported Wagner, when not working on his jigsaw puzzle, threatened to fight another campaign leader, Jeff Roe, who was in charge of the once-powerful Never Back Down Super PAC.
Trump couldn’t have been more gracious in victory, noted America News Brief. The former president led off a campaign rally by offering kind words for the Florida governor and his wife:
“Before we begin, I’d like to take time to congratulate Ron DeSantis. And, of course, a really terrific person who I have gotten to know — his wife Casey — for having run a great campaign for president. He ran a really good campaign. I will tell you it’s not easy. They think it’s easy doing this stuff, right? It’s not easy,” Trump stated.
“But as you know, he left the campaign trail today at 3 p.m. and in so doing, he was very gracious and he endorsed me, so I appreciate that. And I also look forward to working with Ron and everybody else to defeat crooked Joe Biden,” he continued.