10 Things To Know About Ron DeSantis, the Republican White House Hopeful
Ron De Santis as President: To Be Or Not To Be?
Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, has officially entered the 2024 presidential race, positioning himself as a competitor against former president Donald Trump. DeSantis, a GOP candidate, is an American politician serving since 2019 as the 46th governor of Florida. A devoted member of the Republican Party, he represented Florida's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018. As DeSantis gears up to compete for the highest office in the country, here are ten key factors one must know about the politician to delve deeper into his life and career.
1. DeSantis Has Italian-American Roots
44-year-old DeSantis hails from a blue-collar family with Italian-American heritage. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida, he was brought up by his mother, who was a nurse, and his father, who installed Nielsen TV ratings boxes. He was raised in Dunedin, a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast. He is often represented as a 'native Floridian with blue-collar roots.' Though whatever his family background was, he has come a long way with his fire and passion to be someone in the political realm.
2. DeSantis Has an Ivy League Education
Ron DeSantis is not only popular for his political ideology but also has had a swanky Ivy League education. He graduated from Yale in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in History, where he also captained the varsity baseball team. Later, he pursued his further education at Harvard Law School, graduating with Cum Laude honors in 2005. After graduation, DeSantis, for a short period, taught at Darlington School, a private boarding school in Rome, Georgia. In a New York Times story published last year, an alumnus of Darlington said that while teaching Civil War history, DeSantis had attempted to "play devil’s advocate that the South had good reason to fight that war, to kill other people, over owning people – Black people”.
3. DeSantis' Military Service
DeSantis served in the US Navy as a judge advocate general’s corps (JAGs) officer. He was deployed to Guantánamo Bay and later to Iraq, where he served as a legal adviser to Seal Team One. His hard work earned him honors like the Bronze Star Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal. In an Al Jazeera op-ed, former Guantánamo detainee Mansoor Adayfi accused that DeSantis was present and was 'smiling and laughing' while Adayfi was being force-fed by keepers in an effort to finish his hunger strike. However, DeSantis opposed Adayfi’s allegations, claiming it to be “totally BS," as per The Hill. Furthermore, an investigation by the New York Times also did not find enough evidence to support Adayfi's allegations.
4. DeSantis' Congressional Stint
Before he became the Governor of Flordia, DeSantis served three terms in the US House of Representatives, representing Florida’s sixth congressional district. He co-founded the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus (the Freedom Caucus, popularly known as the House Freedom Caucus, is a congressional caucus comprising Republican members of the United States House of Representatives), advocating for a shift toward more conservative policies within the Republican party. DeSantis, on a regular basis, encouraged budget cuts to social security and Medicare. In 2013, DeSantis voted on a failed budget resolution that suggested increasing the social security retirement age to 70 years.
5. DeSantis' Stance on COVID-19
DeSantis became popularly recognized during the COVID-19 pandemic for his defiance of precautionary measures such as lockdowns and mandatory masks. He also promoted COVID-19 vaccine denialism, earning him various online nicknames like 'DeathSantis' and 'DeSatan,' reported Politico. In 2021, when Florida experienced a record-breaking spike in COVID-19 cases, DeSantis seemed to reject the authenticity of the situation and claimed it was 'seasonal.' He also called the increasing struggle faced by states’ hospitals 'media hysteria.' Earlier that year, DeSantis declared a proposal to permanently ban COVID-19 mandates in Florida.
6. The Governer and His 'Woke' Culture War
In his role as Florida’s governor, DeSantis launched a campaign against what he considered 'woke' culture, passing bills that critics argue violate the freedom of individuals, as per The Hill. Notably, he signed the controversial 'Don't Say Gay' law, which forbids conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity at school across all grade levels. He also prohibited African American studies in high schools, claiming that the course 'lacks educational value,' as per CBS News, and imposed a six-week abortion ban in Florida. Since then, he has announced plans to ban state colleges from having programs or events on diversity, equity and inclusion, and critical race theory, reported AP.
7. DeSantis' Disney Feud
DeSantis conflicted with Disney (one of the biggest employers in Florida) after the organization publicly opposed Florida’s 'Don't Say Gay' law. However, as per The Guardian, in what appeared to be the spirit of vengeance, DeSantis seized control of Disney’s special district near Orlando, granting him more authority over the theme park’s operations. New powers allowed him to recruit members to the development board, which supervises and guards the theme park. DeSantis has suggested building low-income housing on land next to the theme parks and also proposed building a state prison in the nearby area.
8. The Governer's Controversial Police Program
Ron DeSantis signed a law enforcement relocation program that offered a one-time $5,000 bonus to recruit officers from other states disappointed with COVID-19 vaccination requirements. It is also worth noting that the Governor of Florida had poured in at least $13.5 million at the time for this law enforcement relocation program. As per The Independent, he even went on the record to say that this move would attract the 'best and the brightest' officers from the country to Florida. However, a report by The Guardian revealed that several officers (almost 600) who relocated had complaints or criminal charges filed against them, including murder, kidnapping, and domestic battery.
9. Ron DeSantis Has an Influential Wife
Casey DeSantis, Ron’s better half and a former TV host, has played a dominant role in his political career trajectory as well as his personal life. Politico reported that she was once regarded as his 'biggest asset' for helping revamp his public persona and even influencing staffing changes within Florida's Republican party; the same source did, however, also call her his 'biggest liability.' Furthermore, as per another report from Politico, in 2019, Casey was alleged to have helped push out employees and several members of Florida’s Republican party who were seen as more loyal to Donald Trump than to her husband.
10. Trump Challenger
DeSantis is supposedly Donald Trump’s primary rival for the GOP presidential nomination. In spite of past alliances, both have bartered veiled criticisms. DeSantis has branded himself as 'MAGA without the mess,' while Trump allegedly warned him against running and even threatened to disclose damaging information should he enter the race, as per The Guardian. As Ron DeSantis takes on the challenge of securing the GOP's presidential nomination, his background, positions, and political maneuvers will undoubtedly be under intense scrutiny in the lead-up to the 2024 election.
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