OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A former top figure from Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis’ now-defunct campaign has undergone a remarkable shift and is now singing the praises of former President Donald Trump.
Steve Cortes, DeSantis’s former spokesman for the Never Back Down Super PAC, “has come full circle and now backs Trump in the 2024 presidential election, expressing that he hopes Trump is the next president of the United States,” One America News reported.
Cortes had previously worked as a Trump campaign advisor in both the 2016 and 2020 elections. Nevertheless, after the 2020 campaign, he decided to leave the Trump team, stating that he departed due to what he described as “vicious attacks” from the former president aimed at his former colleagues.
He then joined the Never Back Down Super PAC. In May 2023, he claimed that the Florida governor was “the best possible option to win the presidency in 2024 and to govern as a highly capable, patriotic populist leader.”
He left his position in October but did not publicly explain his decision, declining for months to discuss it. But on Wednesday, he published an op-ed for RealClearPolitics entitled, “Only Trump Can Save America.”
“I believed that Republican voters were ready for a new post-Trump chapter of the America First movement. I now believe I was wrong,” Cortes’ piece begins, adding that his former boss’s historically strong showing in Iowa makes him more confident than ever in Trump’s potential to win in November.
“Those of us who backed Ron DeSantis — or the other Republican candidates — should read the room. Former President Trump winnowed the field effortlessly and then crushed the remaining three candidates in Iowa. He leads in the polls everywhere else. It is time to coalesce and unite behind the clear preference of the GOP grassroots, Donald John Trump,” he wrote.
“It is time to unify behind former President Trump as he leads the battle against the ruling class and the oligarch’s intent on destroying the American way of life,” Cortes added. “I implore all patriotic populists to join as I pledge to do all I can to work for Trump’s cause, just as I proudly did in 2016 and 2020.”
Just days before the New Hampshire primary, DeSantis endorsed Trump and withdrew from the Republican presidential primary. The Florida governor took to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, and made the announcement.
“If there was anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome, more campaign stops, more interviews, I would do it. But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory. Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign,” said DeSantis, who was a distant third in the single digits in the latest polls in New Hampshire.
“It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance. They watched his presidency get stymied by relentless resistance, and they see Democrats using lawfare this day to attack him. I signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee, and I will honor that pledge,” DeSantis added.
Trump responded by saying he is “very honored” for the endorsement, adding that he is eager “to work together with him to beat Joe Biden.”
“Very honored to have his endorsement,” Trump told Fox News Digital. “I look forward to working together with him to beat Joe Biden, who is the worst and most corrupt president in the history of our country.”
Even though Trump has called DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious” while campaigning, he claims he will no longer use the moniker. “No, that name has been officially retired,” Trump told Fox News.
After winning the Iowa caucuses on January 15 and the New Hampshire primary the following week, Trump firmly established himself as the frontrunner in the race.