Less than 48 hours before the first vote is cast in the New Hampshire presidential primary, Florida Goverenor Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race and threw his support to Donald Trump.

The Republican said that after much "prayer and deliberation" after his second place finish in the Iowa caucus, he did not see a way to winning the primary on Tuesday.

“I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources. We don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign," DeSantis said in a video posted to his social media platforms. It also became clear to him that the majority of Republicans want to give the former president a second chance.

“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.”

DeSantis said that while he has had his differences with Trump over the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, he is "superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear."

In a CNN/UNH New Hampshire Primary Poll released Sunday, DeSantis finished a distant third place with only 6% of the vote. Trump polled 50% with Haley at 39%.

Nikki Haley was at a campaign appearance at Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook, and broke the news to the crowd.

"He ran a great race, he's been a good governor, and we wish him well," Haley said. "It's now one fella and one lady left. There were 14 fellas in the race, and they're all out except for one."

The ballot will actually be 24 names on the GOP primary ballot and 21 on the Democratic ballot. Each paid $1,000 each to appear.

In a more formal statement, Haley said only one state has voted, and half its voters did not select Trump.

"We’re not a country of coronations. Voters deserve a say in whether we go down the road of Trump and Biden again, or we go down a new conservative road. New Hampshire voters will have their say on Tuesday. When I’m president, I will do everything in my power to show them they made the right decision," Haley said.

Southern New Hampshire University Civic Scholar and founder of NH Political Capital Dean Spiliotes said that there's a bit of strategy involved for DeSantis.

"Basically, it's a way to preserve whatever political capital and viability he has for another run in 2028. He already knew that he didn't have the financial resources to completely reboot in South Carolina," Spiliotes told Seacoast Current.

Crowds gather outside the Opera House in Rochester hours before a campaign appearance by Donald Trump 1/21/24
Crowds gather outside the Opera House in Rochester hours before a campaign appearance by Donald Trump 1/21/24 (Rochester, NH Scanner Alerts)

Most of the "fellas" have thrown their support to Trump as they exited the race. The exception is former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has not endorsed any candidate.

Crowds gathered outside the Rochester Opera House Sunday afternoon hours before a scheduled appearance by Trump. He spoke to what some described as an overflow crowd at Southern New Hampshire University Arena in Manchester Saturday night.

During an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Governor Chris Sununu said the Manchester rally was not a big in terms of crowd size as reported by some.

"The guy had to curtain off half of the stadium so it didn't look empty, and then flies out of here," Sununu said.

According the university website the arena holds between 10,000 and 11,000 for non-ice events.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via X (Twitter) @DanAlexanderNH

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Gallery Credit: Megan

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