Scripps News and Decision Desk HQ have projected that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will finish second in the Iowa caucuses.
In comments acknowledging the outcome, DeSantis struck a hopeful tone for a campaign that will leave Iowa in second place.
"Because of your support, in spite of all of that that they threw at us, everyone against us — we've got our ticket punched out of Iowa."
"People want to have hope for this country's future," he said. "And that's what we represent. We represent a chance to reverse the madness that we've seen in this country to reverse the decline of this country and to give this country a new birth of freedom and a restoration sanity."
But DeSantis and his representatives also criticized the media for publishing projected results quickly after caucuses began.
Less than an hour after caucuses started on Monday, Scripps News and Decision Desk HQ projected former President Donald Trump would take first place.
"They even called the election before people got a chance to vote," DeSantis said in his comments at the end of the night.
Bryan Griffin, the DeSantis campaign press secretary, said the early call was "extremely disrespectful" to voters.
Griffin said that caucusgoers in Dubuque were still waiting to be checked in to hear DeSantis speak when the early projections of Trump's victory were published.
Andrew Romeo, communications director for the DeSantis campaign, called it "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."
Scripps News and Decision Desk HQ report projected caucus results that are developed by statisticians — they do not maintain their own election metrics.
DeSantis called on supporters to preserve the "sacred fire of liberty" as the campaign moves forward, alluding to the historic importance of events like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the storming of the beaches of Normandy, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
"Don't run away from this responsibility," DeSantis said. "We welcome this responsibility."
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