WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed supporters Monday night after placing second in the Iowa caucus to former President Donald Trump, arguing that he got “his ticket punched out of Iowa.”
“They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. They spent almost $15 million attacking us… They even called the election before people got a chance to vote,” the governor began his remarks.
“I am not going to make any excuses, and I guarantee you this: I will not let you down.”
DeSantis came into the election with polls predicting him placing third behind Trump and Nikki Haley. The governor managed to get second place, behind Trump’s landslide first-place finish.
Top DeSantis backer and evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats said, “you punch two tickets” out of Iowa, and DeSantis will have the opportunity to continue on.
The Sunshine State leader, for a long time, had said he would “win” the Iowa caucus due to his strong organization and ground game. He had visited all 99 counties in the state and committed himself to grassroots retail politics in a bid to convince voters.
Over the weekend, DeSantis continued to push, sprinting across the state and holding several events per day amid blizzard conditions.
His campaign argued his organization amid the bad weather and potential lower turnout in the caucus would give him a boost in the results.
He continued to speak to voters throughout Monday and into the evening, visiting caucus sites.
In the hours before the caucus Monday night, DeSantis said he hoped to do well and was happy people were seeing him as an “underdog.”
DeSantis’ campaign argued the media committed election interference by calling a win for Trump before the polls closed.
“It is 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,” Communications Director Andrew Romeo said in a statement.
DeSantis has vowed to continue campaigning in the early states and is expected to fly to South Carolina — Haley’s home state — Tuesday morning, followed by New Hampshire in the afternoon.