DeSantis touts caucus results: ‘We got our ticket punched out of Iowa’

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Florida Gov. DeSantis (R) signaled that his campaign would power on following his distant second-place finish to former President Trump in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

“They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us,” DeSantis told a crowd of supporters at a watch party, who responded with chants of “Ron! Ron! Ron!”

“They spent almost $50 million attacking us,” he said. “The media was against us; they were writing our obituaries months ago. They even called the election before people even got a chance to vote.”

“They were just so excited about the fact that they were predicting that we wouldn’t be able to get our ticket punched here out of Iowa, but I can tell you because of your support, in spite of all that they threw at us, everyone against us, we got our ticket punched out of Iowa,” he said.

DeSantis’s surrogates echoed the governor on stage, indicating that he was in the race for the long haul.

“This is not over. In fact, tonight it is just beginning. It is a two-person race tonight; Iowa has made that clear tonight,” said Steve Deace, an Iowa conservative talk show host who endorsed the Florida governor.

Decision Desk HQ projected that DeSantis was poised to finish second in the caucuses, followed by former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. The results are surely a relief for his campaign, which had faced a slew of negative headlines for months. Additionally, the final polls ahead of the caucuses showed DeSantis trailing Haley in third place.

However, DeSantis will have an uphill climb in New Hampshire and South Carolina, where he is polling in third place behind Haley. Still, DeSantis will head to South Carolina on Tuesday in an effort to needle Haley in her home state. The governor will then travel to New Hampshire, which holds its first-in-the-nation primary Jan. 23.

DeSantis will also have to contend with Trump being the dominant force in the primary despite the ongoing race for second. Trump’s win was declared less than an hour after the caucuses began in Iowa, a move that was met with backlash from the DeSantis campaign and its allies.

“Absolutely outrageous that the media would participate in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote. The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet,” DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.

A spokesperson for the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down told The Hill that they were at a precinct in Pella, where Florida first lady Casey DeSantis was giving a speech, and caucusgoers started to receive push notifications from news outlets that the caucus had been called for Trump.

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