Several members of the mainstream media have all made the same claim this week. Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., lacks the charm and personality required to run for President.
Politico columnist Jonathan Martin began Tuesday with a lengthy column titled, “Ron DeSantis takes on the sympathy issue (sort of).” In the piece, Martin quoted Republican donor Francis Rooney, who compared DeSantis to previous presidents as “a little reserved and dry,” hinting at discord with potential Conservative donors that enabled him to launch a presidential campaign.
For now, grumbling is coming mostly from Republican donors, some of whom crave political contact almost as much as lower marginal interest rates and reliable Gulfstreams. But the complaints about his interpersonal skills are symptomatic of a deeper challenge for the governor of what he and his small inner circle have told people they are aware of: his ability to connect with people,” Martin wrote.
He added, “However, DeSantis’ shortcomings cannot be dismissed lightly. They are at the center of a much bigger question, even more consequential than the donor vanity that will shape his prospects in 2024: How important is retail politics anymore? in the presidential campaign?”
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Martin’s comments seemed to resonate with the mainstream media, as several outlets not only promoted the article, but also agreed with the idea that DeSantis is unsympathetic.
“Jonathan Martin, now of Politico, wrote a great article about Governor Ron DeSantis. One of the questions for Ron DeSantis is that he’s not a backslapper. He’s not a gay man. Could he be more likeable? Because it matters. It’s important in politics, especially with donors,” CNN host John King said on Tuesday’s Inside Politics program.
He continued, “It might seem silly to a lot of people out there listening, but when you’re trying to raise money in a crowded elementary school, when you’re trying to persuade Trump donors in particular, ‘Dump Trump, come on They to me’ important thing is that they feel like you’re going to spend a few minutes with them.”
Colleague CNN Erin Burnett also discussed the article with Martin himself on Tuesday night’s “Erin Burnett Outfront,” agreeing that it’s “just not something he’s known for.”
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to be liked right now. According to new reporting from veteran political reporter Jonathan Martin, DeSantis is conducting a charm offensive and making a more concerted effort to work the crowd and engage in small talk. It’s just not something he’s known for doing, and I think he’s quite open about the fact that he doesn’t enjoy doing it,” Burnett said.
Martine explained, “He realizes that he has to build some relationships, that you can’t do a full-scale campaign with viral video clips and TV appearances, that you have to have friends. And it’s not just donors.” He asked donors, which of course need a lot of care and nourishment, but it’s also politicians and other governors who need you to have allies when you’re running in a primary, and then of course voters even that in a lot of those early nominating states, like you know, historically you want to be touched, you want to get involved in some way.
The Late Show host Stephen Colbert devoted a segment of his monologue that same night to taunting DeSantis for his apparent lack of charm.
“In recent polls of GOP voters, DeSantis has a lead over the former president. But he lacks one thing: insiders say he lacks charm for all his smarts and cunning. Come on! You’re telling me this man lacks charm? He has the slick style of a non-playable character in a PlayStation 2 game! hey hey ‘Get out of my bank with your skateboard, Tony Hawk!’” Colbert ripped.
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He continued, citing another article from The New Yorker in June, entitled “Can Ron DeSantis oust Donald Trump as the GOP’s supreme champion?”
“Apparently, DeSantis turns away Republican donors because he dislikes smuggling. As one Florida political leader described the feelings donors have when they actually meet the candidate: ‘Ron is at his best on paper. Then you meet him and you say oh my god.’ It’s true. DeSantis is best on paper. More specifically, the roll through the toilet,” Colbert said.
Colbert’s monologue was shared by both HuffPost and the New York Times on Wednesday morning, with the Times including it in its “Best of Late Night” synopsis.
Other liberal media pundits also pointed out that DeSantis lacked charm for the national stage.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted Wednesday, “I’m obviously not the target audience, but DeSanti’s whole vibe is so pinched and humorless that I really wonder how it’s performing on a larger stage.”
Speaking on Wednesday’s CNN Tonight, Lauren Leader, CEO of the nonprofit All In Together, emphasized DeSantis’ “very, very reserved” personality.
“My prediction is that DeSantis is the Jeb Bush of the 2024 cycle,” Leader said.
She explained: “I think they like him because they don’t know him yet. He has a very, very reserved personality, he has no charisma, he doesn’t really like campaigning. His own staff have trouble getting him to meet with donors, he’s not personable, and I think superficiality aside… he won re-election, and for very good reasons in a state like Florida I don’t think that he has the kind of national appeal or appeal that is required for the presidential campaign. But there’s this big movement trying to find the alternative. And he looks like an alternative.
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New York Magazine’s The Intelligencer further compared DeSantis’ lack of charm to former President Donald Trump’s “sinister charm,” as described by columnist Ed Kilgore.
“Without question, Trump benefited from a split GOP primary in 2016. Similarly, DeSantis could get a boost if he can present himself as the only candidate who can lift the MAGA banner while jettisoning Trump’s heavy baggage,” Kilgore wrote. “But in a potentially crucial respect, a nomination fight limited to the two Floridians could create contrasting impressions that are unhelpful to DeSantis. To put it bluntly, the governor has little charisma.”
Some 2024 polls have positioned DeSantis to beat both Trump and Biden in a potential presidential nomination and race. Though DeSantis is yet to announce a 2024 presidential bid, a political action committee called Ready for Ron recently announced its intention to spend $3.3 million over the next six months to promote him as a candidate.