As Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues to face an uphill battle in his quest to secure the Republican presidential nomination, observers have brought up one more seemingly mundane but crucial problem DeSantis has to address: his personality.
Or in this case, a lack of one.
DeSantis’s personality is described as “awkward” at best, but the rest is pretty much downhill from there. Florida-based Ron Filipkowski, a lawyer and political commentator, tweeted recently, “This new Desantis 2.0 strategy of spending time with the people in smaller settings might work if he had a personality. You can’t fix this.” The tweet included a video of DeSantis speaking briefly to people and then frowning when they were not looking.
Fellow Republican and former Michigan representative David Alan Trott had harsher words, calling DeSantis an “*******” in an interview with the news outlet Intelligencer. “I don’t think he cares about people.”
Even his own staffers have urged him to take more questions and speak to voters, instead of just mingling and posing for photos. And speaking of posing for photos and not taking questions, DeSantis got annoyed at an NBC news reporter who simply asked him, “Why not take any questions from voters, governor?” during candid photo-ops on a campaign trail stop where the governor skipped taking questions from voters.
Even his etiquette is questionable at times. The campaign of former president Donald Trump had a field day with a report that DeSantis once ate pudding with his fingers, going as far as creating a political ad about it. A former staffer told the Daily Beast that the governor would “He would sit in meetings and eat in front of people” like a “starving animal … getting **** everywhere.”
One Problem Among Many
It’s not like DeSantis’s character has not been remarked on before – early last year, Trump embarked on a tirade against the Florida governor, who was then seen to be a stronger contender to become the GOP’s nominee for president. In an interview with Jonathan Swan on Axios on HBO, the former president, who was still playing coy on whether or not he would run for president again, said DeSantis had “no personal charisma” and possessed a “dull personality.” If there’s one thing Trump has, it’s a lot of personal charisma and a larger-than-life personality – and his voter base alone proves it. The former chief executive is facing his third indictment, this time on charges that he made efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, but many Republican voters couldn’t care less. And the numbers support it – recent polls have Trump enjoying 54 percent support among Republicans.
DeSantis, on the other hand, is now a far second fiddle to Trump, with only 17 percent support from voters. The Florida governor is currently contending with a horde of major issues, such as his continued tiff with Disney (and the resulting adverse legal and economic consequences); a controversial middle school curriculum on African-American history slammed not only by Democrats but many fellow Republicans as well; and issues with campaign spending that have seen his camp shed manpower and scale back expenses in a major way.
Light at the end of the tunnel?
At least in terms of his personality, all is not lost for Ron DeSantis. Etiquette experts say that the governor can correct his habits and make changes to his mindset when speaking to people.
“Etiquette really is a set of skills that you can choose to use when and where you’d like. These things can all be taught, practiced, and perfected,” etiquette coach Maggie Oldham told Business Insider. Oldham added that she observed DeSantis as “very nervous when he’s trying to converse.”
Her recommendation: “We can take all that pressure off of ourselves and make ourselves more confident naturally by placing your focus on the other person.”
Men’s dating coach Blaine Anderson concurred, telling the Insider that the governor needs to look for ways to relate to people, “It’s sharing something about yourself that the people can relate to.”
Tim Ramos has written for various publications, corporations, and organizations – covering everything from finance, politics, travel, entertainment, and sports – in Asia and the U.S. for more than 10 years.