Apparently snowflakes thrive in Florida, at least in the governor’s mansion.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is earning himself quite a reputation for being grouchy when reporters dare to ask him questions on the campaign trail. In the latest example, DeSantis snapped at an AP reporter who asked him why he wasn’t taking questions from the audience during a visit to New Hampshire. It wasn’t pretty.
The anti-LGBTQ+ governor has demanded an investigation into the company’s recent maneuver that left everyone laughing at him
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By any standard, the question was a mild one, one that DeSantis should have been easily able to parry. But it displays two fundamental problems with the candidate and his campaign.
The first is that DeSantis is thin-skinned and socially inept. This isn’t the first time that he’s flashed his anger over a question he didn’t want. A good politician knows how to handle those questions and can even show anger without coming across as a petulant teenager. By contrast, DeSantis is more likely to have a surrogate respond using a neo-Nazi meme.
In this case, the question was legitimate. DeSantis doesn’t take very many questions from would-be voters. His interactions tend to be brief and impersonal. When he tries to give the appearance of a warm human being, he comes off as a robot with a lot of bugs still to be worked out. It’s no wonder that DeSantis trying to laugh became a viral sensation.
Having a flawed candidate is bad enough. But the bigger issue is that the flawed candidate thinks he can live in the Fox News bubble.
DeSantis speaks fluent MAGA. He expects everyone he talks to to speak the same language. He expects all reporters he deals with to treat him with the same fawning respect that he’s gotten from Fox News, which became the governor’s personal press office.
But a lot of voters don’t live in that bubble. As DeSantis’ disastrous campaign launch on Twitter proved, he’s just too online. It all makes sense if you travel in the same circles that DeSantis does, but lots of voters don’t.
That’s where the media come into play. This is DeSantis’ opportunity to introduce himself to the American public. All he sees is an enemy that must be vanquished.
Compare that to Trump. Trump attacked reporters too. He mocked one with a disability and proclaimed the press as a whole “the enemy of the people.” But Trump had a much more complicated relationship with reporters than his attacks would imply. He was a creation of the press and depended upon the press for his entire career. He knew how to play the press, that his outrageous comments would make for great ratings and that the press would keep coming back for more.
As a result, the press gave Trump a pass early in his campaign, under the principle that he made for great copy and was probably never going to win. (CNN carried Trump rallies live, for the ratings.) Meanwhile, the media served as Trump’s megaphone for all his worst rhetoric, which resonated with enough voters to propel him to the White House.
Trump was already a known quantity from reality TV. DeSantis isn’t known outside of Florida and Fox News. What voters are learning about him – he’s a short-tempered loner – isn’t going to do much for his image. Attacking the media may well resonate with his base, but that’s not going to be enough to win the nomination, let alone the election.
What it will do is guarantee a run of stories introducing the candidate as the kind of guy no one, even Republicans, really likes, the death knell for a would-be president.