a new in-depth profile from Governor Ron DeSantis in the New Yorker magazine features interviews with everyone from President Donald Trump to the governor’s father, who describes his son as “stubborn.”
The article also says those in Trump’s orbit are trying to “burn DeSantis to the ground” as the governor’s growing popularity within the GOP rivals the former president.
The New Yorkers interest in DeSantis is another sign that his national profile continues to grow amid rumors he could run for president.
Here are five takeaways from the article:
Trump World tries to “burn DeSantis to the ground”.
Several reports have indicated tension between Trump and DeSantis. Trump told New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins that they have a “very good relationship” and that he is “proud of Ron”. But other sources told Filkins that “as DeSantis’ popularity grew, the tension hardened into resentment.” From the article:
Trump told me he was “very close to making a decision” on whether to flee. “I don’t know if Ron is running and I’m not asking him,” he said. “It’s his privilege. I think I would win.” In almost every poll of likely Republican contenders, Trump still has a solid advantage: DeSantis’ constituency was Trump’s first. Trump seems to want to keep it that way. A consultant who has worked for several Republican candidates said the former president had talked to 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’ childhood home in Dunedin, Florida, Ron DeSantis senior initially said, “I’d rather not talk to you.” But it seems he couldn’t help himself. DeSantis’ father further described his son as a “stubborn” child. From the article:
“If he had his heart set on something, you couldn’t shake him.” DeSantis pointed to the street where he and his son were playing catch; there were ball courts nearby, where he had coached Ron’s Little League teams. “I wasn’t trying to favor him, and Ron didn’t like that,” he said… Young DeSantis attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and then Dunedin High, where he was a star player. 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. “Everyone wants to brag about their kids, and people ask me about Ron. I try to be humble.”
Pushaw ‘the most powerful woman in Florida’
DeSantis’ combative spokeswoman Christina Pushaw has become famous for channeling the same combativeness her boss is known for. From the article:
Her cruelty arouses tentative admiration. “She’s the most powerful woman in Florida,” an adviser to several Republican candidates told me. “Ron loves her because she says things that even he won’t say.”
DeSantis seen 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’ve ever talked to.” He has always loved to embarrass and humiliate people.” From the article:
People who work closely with him describe a man who is so distant that he sometimes finds it difficult to carry on a conversation. “He doesn’t feel comfortable involving other people,” a political leader who sees him often told me. “He walks into the meeting and doesn’t recognize the rest of us. There is no eye contact and little to no interaction. The moment I start to ask him a question, his head starts to shake. You can tell he doesn’t want to be there.” Nearly everyone I spoke to who knew DeSantis commented on his affection: his lack of curiosity about others, his indifferent table manners, his distaste for the political rituals of handshakes and questions about the children. A former co-worker told me his behavior stems from a belief that others have benefits that were denied him. “The anger gets to him more easily because he has a chip on his shoulder,” she said. “He’s a serious boy. Driven.”
DeSantis ignored UF experts who spent ‘years’ preparing for a pandemic
The governor is proud to go against the expert consensus on pandemic policy. He even ignored a University of Florida scientist who was specifically recruited to help “steer the state” through a pandemic. From the article:
Early in the pandemic, Scott Rivkees, the state’s surgeon general, called many of Florida’s leading public health experts on a conference call; at the end of the meeting he announced that it would be the last. One of those excluded was Glenn Morris, an epidemiologist who recruited the University of Florida in 2007 to set up a center that would help the state through the next pandemic. “We’ve spent years preparing for this moment,” Morris told me… When the pandemic began, Morris and his colleagues at the University of Florida in Gainesville were in close contact with the Department of Health. Two or three times a week, the department shared new data and a group of epidemiologists analyzed it to inform research and make recommendations to the state… In June 2020, the epidemiologists say, the health department ended 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,” said Derek Cummings, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida. “The recommendations we made were consistently at odds with state policy.”
Follow Herald-Tribune political editor Zac Anderson on Twitter at @zacjanderson. He can be reached via [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: New Yorker profile of DeSantis includes interview with Trump