You know the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? Well, it seems Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who’s trying his luck for the presidency while wrestling with Trump’s poll numbers, might need a refresher on that. He’s in New Hampshire trying to sell his “Make America Florida” campaign, but his sales pitch isn’t hitting the mark. The people of New Hampshire aren’t buying it.
DeSantis held a town hall meeting and spent a solid hour rhapsodizing about the virtues of Florida, his state, which he mentioned a whopping 80 times before he remembered he was actually in New Hampshire and should maybe mention the state he was trying to court.
At town halls, the usual expectation is that candidates answer questions posed by potential constituents. But it seems DeSantis was more eager to wax poetic about his governorship record in Florida, instead of taking a moment to listen to what New Hampshire’s residents had to say.
Take the exchange between DeSantis and a high school teenager, for instance. Instead of answering the student’s question about Trump’s violation of the peaceful transfer of power, DeSantis fired back with an interrogation of his own: “Are you in high school?” When he did get around to responding, his answer was a winding path that barely addressed the question at hand.
This lack of engagement and avoidance of direct answers did not go unnoticed. Joe Walsh, the former Republican U.S. Congressman from Illinois, didn’t mince his words when he criticized DeSantis, labeling him as lacking courage.
Even the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women wasn’t thrilled with DeSantis’ timing. They openly criticized him for scheduling an event that clashed with their annual fundraising lunch, headlined by none other than Trump. They expressed their disappointment at this lack of consideration, calling it “unprecedented.”
To make matters worse for DeSantis, his stumbles and missteps in New Hampshire have left his ratings in the dust. The latest poll puts Trump at 47%, while DeSantis lags behind at 19%, marking a significant fall from his previous 29%.
An anonymous advisor to a rival candidate nailed the sentiment, saying, “If there’s one thing you don’t do in New Hampshire, it’s pissed off the grassroots women. Don’t mess with them, they remember everything. Rookie move.”
So, while DeSantis may be trying to convince New Hampshire that it should aspire to be more like Florida, it seems the Granite State is perfectly happy just being itself. Perhaps DeSantis should take a moment to listen and learn about the state he’s trying to win over, rather than lecturing about the wonders of his own. After all, isn’t understanding your audience the first rule of politics?