When Florida Governor <a href="https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/us-news/2024/01/21/ron-desantis-drops-out-of-us-presidential-race-and-endorses-trump/" target="_blank">Ron DeSantis ended his presidential bid</a> at the weekend, he released a four-minute video in which he tried to sound upbeat while channelling the inspirational stoicism of Winston Churchill. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts,” Mr DeSantis said, attributing the quote to the former British prime minister. The only problem? Churchill never said it. According to the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College, the phrase is one of several fabricated Churchill quotes that does the rounds on social media. It's hardly the most egregious of slips – many of us have misquoted the cigar-chomping leader at some point. But Mr DeSantis's parting gaffe feels like a fitting end to a campaign that was marred from the get-go by missteps and unforced errors. Political analysts will no doubt analyse the failings of his presidential bid for weeks to come. To see where it all went wrong, it's worth starting at the beginning. A year ago, Mr DeSantis was the <a href="https://www.thenationalnews.com/opinion/2022/11/16/florida-man-becomes-boring-us-media-leap-off-the-trump-train/" target="_blank">darling of the right.</a> The Republican establishment had soured on<a href="https://www.thenationalnews.com/tags/donald-trump/" target="_blank"> Donald Trump </a>after a poor showing at the 2022 midterms and many conservative media outlets – including those owned by Rupert Murdoch – were keen to anoint the newly re-elected Florida Governor as their standard bearer. Instead of seizing on that early momentum and a lead in polls over Mr Trump, who had announced his own candidacy in late 2022, Mr DeSantis hemmed and hawed and played coy as to whether he was actually going to run. By the time Mr DeSantis did announce on May 24, the former president had spent months attacking him and he was trailing Mr Trump by at least 30 points in Republican polls. Despite criminal investigations, it was clear that the Trump Train had gathered more than enough steam to smash past any challengers. And, bizarrely, when he did declare his candidacy, Mr DeSantis chose the cloistered world of Twitter Spaces to do so instead of seeking national exposure. <a href="https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/us-news/2023/05/24/ron-desantis-poised-to-challenge-donald-trump-in-2024-us-presidential-race/" target="_blank">It was a disaster. </a>The platform now known as X failed for 25 excruciating minutes while Mr DeSantis waited to make his big announcement, and a chat with owner Elon Musk all but guaranteed the attention would be on the billionaire rather than the presidential wannabe. Once he had belatedly declared, Mr DeSantis then focused on the divisive cultural issues that had helped him retain the governorship in Florida but were less palatable to a national audience. His “anti-woke” rhetoric appealed to some Republicans but ultimately he came across as a mean-spirited bully as he bragged about banning books, mocked gay people and supported a law that said black people had benefitted from slavery because it taught them useful skills. Mr Trump's nickname for his opponent, Ron DeSanctimonious, stuck. Then came the personal attacks on Mr DeSantis, who at various points in the campaign was accused of eating pudding with his fingers, being unable to smile authentically, and of wearing lifts in his already <a href="https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/us-news/2023/10/31/ron-desantis-accused-of-wearing-lifts-in-his-cowboy-boots-to-appear-taller/" target="_blank">well-heeled cowboy boots</a> to appear even taller. The candidate appeared stiff, charmless and uncomfortable throughout the campaign, unable to connect with voters in a way Mr Trump can. Mr DeSantis's campaign was also widely reported to be mired in internal conflicts. He hired too many staff to begin with, burning through cash, and frequently changed aides as his campaign floundered. His campaign slogan was “Never Back Down”, but when he announced he was leaving the race, Mr DeSantis meekly endorsed Mr Trump, the man who had spent more than a year comparing his “no personality” opponent to a “wounded falling bird from the skies.” Mr DeSantis could have endorsed Nikki Haley, the only opponent to Mr Trump still in the race, and helped propel her to victory in some states while keeping much-needed debate going within the Republican Party. Instead, Mr Trump's coronation as Republican nominee is now all but assured. And what does Mr DeSantis get for bending the knee? Apparently nothing. Mr Trump on Monday said it was “highly unlikely” he would appoint Mr DeSantis to his cabinet if he returns to the White House.