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Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Jan. 19, 2024, during a media availability in Manchester, N.H. (AP) Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Jan. 19, 2024, during a media availability in Manchester, N.H. (AP)

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Jan. 19, 2024, during a media availability in Manchester, N.H. (AP)

Maria Ramirez Uribe
By Maria Ramirez Uribe January 21, 2024
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman January 21, 2024

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MANCHESTER, N.H. – After a few sporadic campaign events in New Hampshire in the days leading up to the state’s Jan. 23 primary, Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out of the presidential race, saying there was "no clear path to victory" for him.

DeSantis said he was sticking to his commitment to back the Republican Party’s nominee and endorsed former President Donald Trump’s campaign, saying that the majority of Republican primary voters want to give Trump another chance. 

"I have had disagreements with Donald Trump, such as on the coronavirus pandemic and his elevation of Anthony Fauci," DeSantis said. "Trump is superior to the current incumbent Joe Biden."

In recent days, the DeSantis campaign repeatedly changed his schedule, leaving it unclear whether he would return to New Hampshire or drop out. On Saturday, he alerted the media and supporters that he would hold a meet-and-greet at a Manchester restaurant Sunday evening, only to cancel it a few hours before. Television crews and photographers were beginning to set up at The Farm Bar and Grille restaurant shortly before DeSantis posted his exit video on X, which started with, "Greetings from Florida."

"We left it all out on the field," DeSantis said Jan. 21. "If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews I would do it." 

DeSantis’ post included an uplifting quote that he attributed to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." But Churchill didn’t say that, historians say.

DeSantis’ dropping out left Trump and his onetime ally and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley as the remaining main Republican candidates seeking to oust President Joe Biden from office.

Haley, after hearing the news about DeSantis dropping out, told supporters at a campaign event that DeSantis had been a "good governor," and said the race is now "one fella and one lady left." 

"Do you want more of the same or do you want something new?" she said.

Trump spent the last few days before New Hampshire’s election in front of thousands of loyal fans at boisterous rallies across the state and generally ignoring local media. Haley sought to persuade voters at smaller events. They should ditch the "chaos" of Trump, she told media outlets, and put her, a younger person with business bookkeeping experience, in the White House.

Trump sticks to entertaining his supporters 

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gesturing to the crowd Jan. 20, 2024, after speaking during a campaign event in Manchester, N.H. (AP)

As the polling front-runner, Trump dedicated his attention to friendly and loyal fans who ignored frigid temperatures and crowded into his rallies across the state. Hundreds of Trump supporters started to line up more than five hours before his rally in Manchester, standing outdoors in single-digit-degree weather while vendors hawked MAGA T-shirts and hats. 

He skipped an invite from WMUR-TV, the local ABC affiliate and PolitiFact partner, to take questions during their Sunday "Closeup" morning show. Haley appeared on the show and answered policy questions related to taxes and Social Security.

Trump’s rallies serve dual purposes: attack his primary rivals, Democrats and Biden while entertaining his supporters. 

Trump at his rallies repeated many inaccurate and misleading talking points about his own electoral record and his rivals’ stance on border security and Social Security retirement age eligibility.

Haley intensifies attacks against Trump, uses data to characterize the U.S. in disarray

Republican presidential candidate and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley meets voters Jan. 17, 2024, after a rally in Rochester, N.H. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact)

Haley’s more low-key events aimed to win support from Republican and undeclared voters, many who were listening to her stump speech for the first time.

"How many of you are hearing me for the first time?" Haley asked voters in Peterborough, New Hampshire. "All of you. Well, it's great to see you. I'm glad you're here."

Haley has focused on in-person events in New Hampshire after forgoing New Hampshire debates scheduled by WMUR and CNN. During her speeches in cities and small towns across the Granite State, Haley paints a picture of a country in disarray, and her leadership as its hope for success.

"It's a tough time right now in the country," Haley said in Peterborough before sharing grim statistics about students’ low proficiency in math and reading, illegal border crossings under Biden and fentanyl’s dangers. 

One voter at Haley’s Peterborough rally told PolitiFact that she wanted Haley to win the primary, but would back Trump if Haley didn’t succeed.

Politics at the Red Arrow diner and midnight voting 

Donald Trump greets supporters April 27, 2023, at the Red Arrow Diner after his rally in Manchester, N.H. (AP)

Democrats Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and Marianne Williamson also were on the ground vying for attention, but drawing little compared with the Republicans.

Phillips has been a regular at the Red Arrow Diner, a longtime must-stop for national politicians and candidates, including Haley. When politicians sit at the counter, the diner installs a plaque showing who sat there — including Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who ran in past cycles, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who dropped out of the 2024 Republican race months ago. In 2023, Chris Christie left a note for Asa Hutchinson on a check at the diner "Asa — I warmed them up for you. I owe you a call. Will get you this weekend. The oatmeal was great! Chris Christie."

RELATED: Fact-checking Haley’s New Hampshire claims on fentanyl, education, Trump’s stance on retirement age

RELATED: Trump’s misleading claim that Haley is seeking Democrats to ‘infiltrate’ New Hampshire’s GOP primary

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