DeSantis, the adversary of the progressive left who dreams of reaching the White House

He has transformed Florida into a laboratory of conservative ideas. Rising star of the American right, Governor Ron DeSantis hopes to see his tougher stances on immigration, abortion or gender issues propel him to the White House, much to the chagrin of Donald Trump.

This 44-year-old former Navy lawyer is the main obstacle to the Republican inauguration of the former president, a man with whom he shares his main ideas, but not his excesses.

DeSantis, triumphantly re-elected as Florida governor in November, appears almost daily in the US media as one of the main protagonists of the conservative crusade against “woke” progressive ideology.

In recent months, he has embraced numerous cultural battles around teaching, racism or gender identity. Some issues that, added to a toughening of abortion and immigration laws, have made him a prominent figure for the conservative electorate.

Harvard and Guantanamo

Born into a middle-class family of Italian origin, DeSantis graduated from the prestigious Yale University – where he also stood out on the baseball team – and from the demanding Harvard Law School.

He later practiced law in the military, serving as a consultant at Guantánamo and with elite troops in Iraq.

Very soon he positioned himself far to the right of the Republican Party. In 2011 he published “Dreams of our Founding Fathers,” a reference to Barack Obama’s autobiography, “Dreams of My Father.” In the book, DeSantis criticized the former Democratic president for breaking with the Constitution because of his “progressive” views.

In 2012, he won a seat in the House of Representatives and was re-elected twice. Six years later, he became governor with a narrow majority after receiving critical support from then-President Donald Trump.

In a campaign clip, DeSantis, an almost unknown politician at the time, built a wall out of colored cubes with his daughter, in reference to Trump’s project on the border with Mexico.

His leap onto the national stage came during the covid-19 pandemic, when he promoted a rapid reopening of businesses and harshly criticized the sanitary measures imposed by the Democratic government of Joe Biden.

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“Graft a Personality”

DeSantis also recently joined the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona in sending newly arrived migrants to the United States to Democratic strongholds in the north and east of the country.

An intransigent position that he adopts without fuss, like someone who does his job and nothing more.

Together with his wife Casey, a former television presenter who closely advises him, and their three children Madison, Mason and Mamie, he tries to soften a cold image.

“The problem with DeSantis is that he would need to graft a personality on himself,” Trump recently mocked on the Truth Social platform.

An anecdote repeated in the press illustrates his taste for solitude, In the Capitol, DeSantis used to walk through the corridors with wireless headphones in his ears, to discourage any impromptu conversation.

He is rigid, aloof, but pragmatic, his supporters argue, citing his handling of the Hurricane Ian disaster in Florida last year as an example.

For those followers, the governor, a brilliant and ambitious student, a man who rose through the ranks on his own merits, dedicated to his family, embodies the change necessary for the Republican Party.

A complimentary portrayal that doesn’t seem to impress Trump. The former president, a fan of offensive nicknames, has tried to give the Catholic governor that of “Ron DeSanctimonius”, something like “Ron the Blessed”. With little success so far.

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