Donald Trump struck a rare gracious note Sunday in congratulating Ron DeSantis on his presidential bid after the Florida governor suspended it. The criminally indicted former president also announced that he was retiring his “Ron DeSanctimonious” nickname for his onetime rival in the Republican presidential race. (Watch the videos below.)
DeSantis endorsed Trump for president during his withdrawal speech, prompting kind words from the GOP front-runner, who values loyalty seemingly above all ― even if DeSantis’ support “wasn’t the warmest of endorsements,” as The Associated Press put it.
“Before we begin, I’d like to take time to congratulate Ron DeSantis and, of course, a really terrific person who I’ve gotten to know, his wife Casey, for having run a great campaign for president,” Trump said at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire. “He did. 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,” he added.
“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 it,” Trump continued. “I appreciate that, and I also look forward to working with Ron and everybody else to defeat Crooked Joe Biden.”
BREAKING: Donald Trump congratulates Ron DeSantis on his campaign and thanks him for his endorsement pic.twitter.com/tOsogJXUOK
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) January 22, 2024
Trump also offered his version of an olive branch by telling a reporter that his “DeSanctimonious” nickname is “officially retired.”
Trump and DeSantis’ relationship fractured during the campaign as the former president amplified his grudge toward DeSantis for running against him after Trump helped him get elected in Florida.
JUST IN: Donald Trump says he has officially retired the name 'Ron DeSanctimonious' after DeSantis dropped out and endorsed him for president.
"That name is officially retired," Trump said.
During his dropout speech, DeSantis declared that Trump was the "superior" candidate… pic.twitter.com/OznI4Wepqo
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) January 21, 2024
Trump is approaching Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary with an 11-point lead in that state over his remaining rival, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, according to a CNN poll conducted before DeSantis’ announcement. The Florida governor trailed badly at just 6% of the vote in the survey.