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U.S. Politics

Casey DeSantis: Ron’s ‘secret weapon’ in White House bid


She is Ron DeSantis’ wife, the mother of his children, and a considerable asset in tempering his  reputation for being aloof.

But Casey DeSantis is above all his first political adviser, making her indispensable in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

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Never far from the Florida governor’s side at important events, the former journalist is as comfortable at a microphone as she is in front of voters.

After Hurricane Ian battered Florida last year, she raised money for the victims and was on the ground offering her sympathies — an empathetic touch her husband lacks a knack for, according to his critics. 

While his ultra-conservative policies have drawn national attention, Ron DeSantis’s personality remains a relative mystery. 

“I get asked all the time: who is Ron DeSantis?” says Casey DeSantis in a video made for her husband’s gubernatorial reelection campaign in 2022.

She then paints an exalted portrait: loving father to their three young children Madison, Mason and Mamie, and a pillar of strength when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 — she has been cancer-free since March 2022. 

“He was there to fight for me when I didn’t have the strength to fight for myself. That is who Ron DeSantis is,” the 42-year-old says, voice trembling with emotion. 

– Values and morality –

The image of attentive husband is a boon to the Republican’s cachet with many American voters. 

In the small town of Sioux Center in Iowa, where Ron DeSantis was campaigning in mid-May, residents called him a family man in keeping with what they called Christian values.

His private life “shows he has good values,” said Chantelle Derooy, 39, holding her daughter by the hand. 

For Craig Hoftyzer, “that would probably put him step ahead, I guess, in my mind over Trump,” said the 47-year-old, referring to the former president and Republican frontrunner.

“Morally, he’s probably on a little higher ground.” 

Among the crowd in Sioux Center, Casey DeSantis is almost as popular as her husband. One attendee proudly holds an autographed portrait of her in his hand. 

The same day, the couple took part in a question and answer session, during which Ron DeSantis, true to his image, stuck to numbers and laws rather than share personal anecdotes. 

It was up to Casey DeSantis to add a human touch. 

“When he gets home, don’t think for a second that he goes right to bed. I hand three small kids to him and I go to bed,” she said, eliciting laughs from the audience.

– Disney World marriage –

But Mrs. DeSantis’s role isn’t limited to being relatable.

If her elegant style choices have earned her comparisons with former first ladies Jackie Kennedy and Melania Trump, her political influence would be more likened to that of Hillary Clinton. 

“She is not only his closest and smartest adviser, she is his secret weapon,” Jared Moskowitz, a former DeSantis administration official who is now an elected Democrat, told The New York Times. 

Casey DeSantis, just as conservative as her husband, has even been nicknamed the “co-governor,” so involved is she in every decision.

Indeed, her influence is so great that some fear she is isolating DeSantis from his actual professional advisers.

She advises him in particular on his communication strategy, drawing on her experience as a local TV anchor, a profession she abandoned when her husband’s political career took off. 

The DeSantis communications machine got his presidential bid off to a disastrous start on Twitter with Elon Musk Wednesday evening, as the audio-only livestream was plagued with repeated glitches and dead air.

Born in 1980, this horseback riding fan with a degree in economics also worked as a reporter covering golf, another of her passions.

The devoutly Christian couple met on a golf course, tying the knot in 2009 at the Orlando-based Walt Disney World theme park — the same park at the heart of a legal battle between the governor and the entertainment giant, which spoke out last year against a DeSantis-backed education bill concerning LGBTQ youth.

Will the “First Lady” of Florida trade up to be first lady of all 50 states? 

Her husband is still a long way from the presidency, but if he wins, Casey DeSantis will have something to do with it, according to many observers — something Ron DeSantis himself seems to understand well. 

In his latest book, he says meeting his wife was his “life’s most fortuitous moment.”


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