When an Angry Ron DeSantis Asked a Journalist 'Are You Blind' on Camera
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis once ignited controversy during his campaign event in New Hampshire when he responded intensely to a journalist’s inquiry about taking questions from the audience. After delivering his standard stump speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Laconia, DeSantis was seen agitated when Steve Peoples from The Associated Press questioned why he was not engaging with the audience in a more interactive manner. "People are coming up to me, talking to me. What are you talking about? Are you blind? Are you blind? People are coming up to me, talking to me whatever they want to talk to me about," DeSantis retorted, dismissing the journalist's query.
This incident underscored DeSantis’ reputed temper and constricted relationship with the mainstream media. Throughout his tenure as governor back then, he has frequently clashed with the press, often choosing to grant interviews to conservative outlets. The squabble also highlighted the well calculated orchestration of DeSantis’ interactions with the public, a strategy that may face challenges as he garners more attention from the nation, specifically in early nominations in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. According to The New York Times, DeSantis’ supporters pointed out that he engages with voters for only selfies and autographs after speeches, the denial to take questions from the lectern disappointed some attendees. Vikram Mansharamani, a former GOP Senate nominee in New Hampshire expressed his disappointment on this matter as well.
As per NBC News, Mansharamani praised DeSantis for addressing voter-centric topics but expressed his disappointment with the lack of audience interaction. “There weren’t questions or any interactivity with the audience. We like to hear from candidates and we have questions of our own [as] citizens here in the state. I find that very disappointing,” The incident sheds light on the growing scrutiny of DeSantis’ media strategy as he officially entered the 2024 presidential campaign. While his supporters framed the interaction as an example of DeSantis confronting "fake news", critics argued that it portrayed a reluctance to indulge with the public more openly. While touring New Hampshire, many voters expressed their disappointment at the absence of a question and answer session.
As a presidential candidate, DeSantis may need to broaden his media interactions to reach a larger audience, especially in states where direct candidate-voter interaction is expected. DeSantis' New Hampshire tour has seen him taking more questions from the press than in previous campaign appearances. While DeSantis was to a great extent able to stage-manage his media appearances in Florida, he may need to branch out to reach a substantial spectrum of voters as a presidential candidate. However, the incident in Laconia indicates potential challenges as he navigates the complexities of a national campaign. How DeSantis balances media engagement and audience interaction could be a defining factor in his presidential bid.
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