Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has dropped out of the 2024 presidential race and endorsed Donald Trump.
The surprise video announcement comes ahead of this week’s New Hampshire Republican primary, where Mr DeSantis was polling in the single digits.
The conservative lawmaker said that he didn’t “have a clear path to victory” when announcing the end of his campaign.
His departure leaves Nikki Haley as Mr Trump’s only significant rival.
Despite the grim news for his supporters, Mr DeSantis said his campaign “left it all out on the field” in the nearly five-minute long video on X, formerly Twitter.
“If there was anything I could do to produce a favourable outcome – more campaign stops, more interviews – I would do it,” he said, as he ended his seven-month campaign.
The Florida governor added that he was endorsing Mr Trump because it had “become clear” that “a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance”.
While Mr DeSantis acknowledged “disagreements” with Mr Trump, he said he is “superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden”.
“That is clear,” he added. “I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honour that pledge.”
Mr Trump has not yet responded to the news.
Ending his campaign, Mr DeSantis also took a swipe at Ms Haley, calling her a member of “the old Republican guard of yesteryear – a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism”.
Ms Haley, a former US ambassador to the UN, responded by insisting she is the conservative – the “only one” – who can beat current US President Joe Biden.
“There’s two people in this race,” she told CNN in New Hampshire, referring to herself and Mr Trump. “That’s what we wanted all along, and we’re going to keep going.”
Mr DeSantis narrowly finished ahead of Ms Haley in last week’s Iowa caucus with 21% of the vote, compared to her 19%. Mr Trump received 51% of the vote.
At the time, Mr DeSantis framed the second-place finish as a victory, claiming that his campaign “got our ticket punched out of Iowa”. He contended that meant half of the voters in Iowa wanted to support someone other than the former president.
But the Florida governor had spent the bulk of his time and resources in recent months campaigning in all 99 of the state’s counties and courting its conservative evangelical voters, which made it difficult to sell his loss to Mr Trump as a win.
His departure from the race allows Mr DeSantis to avoid a potentially further embarrassing third-place finish in New Hampshire to Ms Haley, who has focused far more of her resources in the state.
But a person familiar with Mr DeSantis’ election night plans in New Hampshire was completely caught off guard by the news of his exit.
The source told the BBC the campaign had just confirmed plans with them on Saturday for their election night bash this coming Tuesday.
There were some early indications that this news might be on the horizon – Mr DeSantis had dropped out of several planned media appearances on Sunday, and had a single event scheduled in New Hampshire.
Chris Ager, the state committee chair of New Hampshire’s Republican Party, told the BBC that “the race has been moving toward a one-vs-one between Trump and Haley for a while”.
“This makes it so,” he added.