A new in-depth profile of Gov. Ron DeSantis in the New Yorker magazine includes interviews with everyone from President Donald Trump to the governor’s dad, who describes his son as “stubborn.”
The article also says those in Trump’s orbit are trying to “burn DeSantis down” as the governor’s growing popularity within the GOP rivals the former president.
The New Yorker’s interest in DeSantis is another sign that his national profile continues to grow amid talk that he could run for president.
Who are they? DeSantis has billionaire support, with at least 42 backing him
Here are five takeaways from the article:
Trump World is trying to “burn DeSantis down.”
Various reports have indicated there is tension between Trump and DeSantis. Trump told New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins they have a “very good relationship” and that he is “proud of Ron.” But other sources told Filkins that “as DeSantis’s popularity grew, tension hardened into resentment.” From the article:
Trump told me that he was “very close to making a decision” about whether to run. “I don’t know if Ron is running, and I don’t ask him,” he said. “It’s his prerogative. I think I would win.” In nearly every poll of likely Republican contenders, Trump still has a solid advantage: DeSantis’s constituency was Trump’s first. Trump seems to want to keep it that way. A consultant who has worked for several Republican candidates said that the former President had talked with confidants about ways to stop DeSantis: “Trump World is working overtime to find ways to burn DeSantis down. They really hate him.”
More of our coverage:
DeSantis’ dad is talkative
When Filkins knocked on the door of DeSantis’ parent’s home in Dunedin, Florida, Ron DeSantis senior initially said “I’d rather not talk to you.” But it appears that he couldn’t help himself. DeSantis’ father went on to describe his son as a “stubborn” child. From the article:
“If he set his mind to something, you couldn’t shake him.” DeSantis pointed into the street, where he and his son used to play catch; there were ball fields nearby, where he had coached Ron’s Little League teams. “I tried not to favor him, and Ron didn’t like that,” he said … The young DeSantis attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and then Dunedin High, where he was a star outfielder. He was focused and motivated, his father said, adding, “He didn’t get that from me.” DeSantis scored in the ninety-ninth percentile on his SAT and was accepted to Yale, his father said: “It’s still the thing I’m most proud of.” But he didn’t like to make too much of it. “Everybody wants to brag about their kids, and people ask me about Ron. I try to be modest.”
Pushaw ‘the most powerful woman in Florida’
DeSantis’ combative spokeswoman Christina Pushaw has risen to prominence by channeling the same combativeness her boss is known for. From the article:
Her ferocity inspires cautious admiration. “She is the most powerful woman in Florida,” a consultant to several Republican candidates told me. “Ron loves her, because she says things that even he won’t say.”
DeSantis viewed as ‘aloof’ and ‘selfish’
Descriptions of the governor as aloof and uncomfortable with retail politics are nothing new, but the New Yorker piece reinforces the perception of DeSantis as a not particularly engaging personality in intimate settings. There’s also a particularly stark quote from a former college baseball teammate who calls DeSantis “the most selfish person I have ever interacted with. He has always loved embarrassing and humiliating people.” From the article:
People who work closely with him describe a man so aloof that he sometimes finds it difficult to carry on a conversation. “He’s not comfortable engaging other people,” a political leader who sees him often told me. “He walks into the meeting and doesn’t acknowledge the rest of us. There’s no eye contact and little or no interaction. The moment I start to ask him a question, his head twitches. You can tell he doesn’t want to be there.” Nearly everyone I talked to who knew DeSantis commented on his affect: his lack of curiosity about others, his indifferent table manners, his aversion to the political rituals of dispensing handshakes and questions about the kids. One former associate told me that his demeanor stems from a conviction that others have advantages that were denied to him. “The anger comes more easily to him because he has a chip on his shoulder,” she said. “He is a serious guy. Driven.”
DeSantis ignored UF experts who spent ‘years’ preparing for pandemic
The governor takes pride in going against expert consensus on pandemic policies. He even ignored a University of Florida scientist who specifically had been recruited to “guide the state” through a pandemic. From the article:
Early in the pandemic, Scott Rivkees, the state surgeon general, convened a conference call of many of Florida’s leading public-health experts; at the end of the meeting, he announced that it would be the last. Among those boxed out was Glenn Morris, an epidemiologist whom the University of Florida had recruited in 2007 to set up a center that would help guide the state though the next pandemic. “We spent years preparing for this moment,” Morris told me… As the pandemic began, Morris and his colleagues at the University of Florida in Gainesville maintained close contact with the state Department of Health. Two or three times a week, the department shared new data, and a group of epidemiologists analyzed them, to inform research and to make recommendations to the state… In June, 2020, the epidemiologists say, the health department terminated the relationship and stopped sharing data… “The only reason you don’t collect data is that you don’t want to know what the data says,” Derek Cummings, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, said. “The recommendations we were making were consistently at odds with the policy of the state.”
Follow Herald-Tribune Political Editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be reached at [email protected]
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