Washington, United States:
Expanding gun rights and banning books, Ron DeSantis became a darling of US conservatives for embracing an “anti-woke” agenda — but it was not enough to fuel a White House run against Donald Trump, whom the Florida governor endorsed Sunday as he suspended his campaign.
DeSantis had spent years molding his state into the front line of the battle for the soul of America, framing himself as representing a version of Trumpism without the chaos accompanying the twice-impeached, criminally indicted former president.
But though DeSantis held on to second place in the polls for months, Trump remained the runaway favorite among a Republican base who saw no reason to embrace a “lite” version of the former president’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement when they could have the real thing.
DeSantis had sought to lock horns against “woke” politicians, businesses and professors he accused of forcing their progressive ideology on Americans.
His most headline-grabbing initiatives included expanding gun rights, imposing restrictive abortion laws and banning classroom discussion of sexuality and gender identity. His education policies led to dozens of books being removed from school libraries.
But the outrage was, for a time, matched by applause in America’s most conservative circles, and media coverage brought him national exposure.
As he learned, however, that was not the same as competing politically on a national stage. Instead DeSantis often appeared awkward at campaign events and debates, hampered by his apparent dislike for the social aspects of a presidential run.
His runaway campaign spending and habit of relying on a close circle of advisors anchored by his wife, Casey DeSantis, also saw his bid begin to founder.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 14, 1978, DeSantis went to Yale University then Harvard Law School.
He practiced law in the US Navy and entered politics in 2012, winning a seat in the US House of Representatives.
During Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial election, DeSantis won then-president Trump’s decisive endorsement in the Republican primary after gushing praise.
He went on to defeat his Democratic opponent by a narrow margin despite a wave of losses by Republicans elsewhere in the country.
Four years later, he won a landslide reelection and quickly began positioning himself for a White House run.
But as his profile grew, his relationship with Trump soured, with the billionaire attacking him as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
Doubts over Trump’s electability continued to mount following his indictment on felony financial charges, a finding of liability in a civil sexual assault case and criminal probes into alleged election interference and mishandling of government documents.
But DeSantis failed to capitalize, making missteps that raised red flags over his own readiness for the highest office.
A bitter and avoidable feud with Florida’s biggest private employer Disney over its politics bewildered champions of the free market, while the six-week abortion ban had moderates worried he was out of touch with public opinion.
Washington watchers were already writing him off well before the Iowa caucuses last week that saw him eke out a distant second place to Trump.
His decision to drop out of the race came less than two days before the New Hampshire primary, where polls showed him far behind Trump and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley.
Reporters in New Hampshire asked Trump Sunday if he would continue using the name “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
“That name is officially retired,” Trump replied to a roar of laughter.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)