The Shady Side Of Ron DeSantis

It takes a lot for a politician to outdo Donald Trump when it comes to all-round shadiness. But then, Ron DeSantis is no ordinary politician. The Florida governor appears to have gone out of his way to offend, criticize, or dismiss everyone in his path since being elected to Congress in 2012. And that includes the 45th himself.

Of course, you might have expected DeSantis to eat quite a large slice of humble pie since pulling out of the Republican nomination for the U.S. Presidency in early 2024 (via NPR), particularly for the fact that he's now throwing his weight behind Trump. Yes, the same Trump who he'd spent the last few years engaged in an increasingly bitter war of words with. But no, the Yale and Harvard graduate is still shooting his mouth off left, right, and center.

From sugar-shaming children and using wheelchair users as handkerchiefs to rumors of dog-kicking and his questionable views on slavery, as well as several of his potshots at Trump, here's a look at DeSantis' 14 shadiest moments.

Ron DeSantis claims Donald Trump is phoning it in

Ron DeSantis once again proved that there was no love lost between him and Donald Trump in January 2024. On this occasion, it was related to the 45th's unwillingness to brave a storm. And he wasn't talking about a political one, either.

DeSantis felt compelled to speak out after hitting the campaign trail in Council Bluffs, one of several Iowa cities impacted by extreme weather conditions at the time. The former POTUS had decided not to risk visiting in person, instead opting for a series of tele-rallies.

And this no-show gave DeSantis plenty of ammunition. He told reporters (via CNN), "Donald Trump I guess has phoned it in. He's just gonna be hanging out in Mar-a-Lago. I'm sure it's probably 75 degrees there." By this point, the former POTUS had already revealed on his own Truth Social platform that he was on his way to Iowa, specifically an event in Indianola, to "Make America Great Again." But the idea that DeSantis was more element-proof had already been thrown out there. 

Ron DeSantis snubs Donald Trump's potential vice-president offer

Despite their constant war of words in the press, Donald Trump told a South Carolina town hall meeting in February 2024 that he was open to the idea of selecting Ron DeSantis as his vice president candidate for the impending U.S. election. Instead of being flattered, however, the Florida governor decided to throw some shade the 45th's way.

In a recording of a call with backers that the press managed to get its hands on, DeSantis said that he didn't fit the bill for what Trump was looking for. "People were mentioning me — like, I am not — I am not doing that," he said (via the Daily Mail) "... I have heard that they're looking more in identity politics. I think that's a mistake. I think you should just focus on who the best person for the job would be."

DeSantis also used the call as an opportunity to criticize the apparent bias that a certain section of the press shows toward Trump: "He said at some point he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote. Well, I think he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and the conservative media wouldn't even report on it."

Ron Desantis calls Gavin Newsom out for China visit

In 2023, Gavin Newsom traveled to China, the first U.S. governor to do so in an official capacity in four years, to meet with its president Xi Jinping about issues such as human rights, global warming, and the economy. It's fair to say that Ron DeSantis wasn't impressed, however, by this particular engagement.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, DeSantis claimed that the California governor's trip sent out the wrong message when it comes to relations between the two countries. He explained, "When I saw the photos, the thing that came to my mind was — you know, these are guys that are two peas in the pod with respect to COVID, draconian COVID policies."

"They both had very lengthy lockdowns, curtailed people's ability to work, go to school, all that," he went on to add. "I know California because a lot of people fled to Florida because of what he did." DeSantis was no doubt getting the first jab in early, as both he and Newsom were due to debate in a 90-minute Fox News show in Georgia the following month. 

Ron DeSantis uses wheelchair user as a tissue

Ron DeSantis' personal hygiene was called into question during a 2023 trip to Iowa in which he appeared to use a man in a wheelchair as a tissue. In a clip that went viral, the Florida governor can be seen wiping his nose with his hand before patting the aforementioned supporter on the back.

DeSantis made the gesture after the man in question told him not to "back down" over his long-running Disney feud. Incredibly, this wasn't the only time that the politician's hands seemed to wander directly from his nostrils to another human being during his Iowa visit. Footage from a different fundraiser in Sioux Center appeared to show him doing the exact same thing to another poor, unsuspecting fan.

Unsurprisingly, social media went all in on DeSantis' gross habit. "This dude's a walking biohazard," tweeted one joker (via Yahoo! News). Another posted, "It's called a 'blessing.' An anointing, if you will. King Charles got holy oil from the Holy Land or something like that. Meanwhile, the poor sap in the chair gets anointed with snot from Eggar the Bug."

Ron DeSantis called out a kid for her sugar consumption

Ron DeSantis once again proved that he's not exactly a man of the people in the summer of 2023 when he essentially sugar-shamed a kid while on the campaign trail at Iowa's Wayne County fairgrounds.

The Florida governor made the faux pas after spotting the young girl in question and asking her what she was enjoying about the day. On hearing her answer of an Icee, DeSantis said (via Uproxx), "That's a lot of sugar, huh?" before adding, "Good to see ya" in a manner that suggested he'd never actually talked to a child before.

Inevitably, DeSantis' desperately awkward human interaction went viral. "Never back down from a fight with some woke little girl and her icee," tweeted one individual, referring to the politician's war against political correctness. "I don't think there's been a worse retail politician in our lifetime. It's a real talent, a kind of anti-Obama," quipped another.

Ron DeSantis calls out Anthony Fauci

It takes a certain kind of individual to unite supporters of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But Ron DeSantis did just that in 2023 when he accused both the 45th and the 46th of failing the American people in their response to the coronavirus.

The Florida governor was speaking at Iowa's Rhythm City Casino Resort in front of approximately 700 people when he declared (via NBC News), "We were right, they were wrong." DeSantis also found the time to call out the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Anthony Fauci, for his advice to both presidents. "We refused to let our state descend into some sort of Faucian dystopia," he added during the promotional trip for his New York Times bestseller "The Courage to Be Free."

As you'd expect, Trump didn't take the personal attack on his integrity lying down. He took to Truth Social to answer back, "Very small crowds for Ron DeSanctimonious in Iowa. He's against Farmers, Social Security, and Medicare, so why would people show up — other than Fake stories from the Fake News!"

Ron DeSantis argues there were benefits to slavery

One of the biggest controversies surrounding Ron DeSantis occurred in 2023 when the Florida governor helped to pass legislation that was seen as de-emphasizing racism in his home state's public education curriculum. This included middle school teachings that "slaves developed skills which, in some instances, can be applied for their personal benefit."

When asked about the issue at a news conference, DeSantis essentially put forward the theory that there were perks to slavery, declaring (via the Independent). "They're probably going to show that some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life."

Understandably, DeSantis faced a major backlash for his comments, with the first-ever Black female House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell, particularly scathing. She told The Washington Post, "Let's really dissect what he's saying here. He's saying that to be ripped away from your homelands and brought to another country against your will, or to be born into the atrocity of the dehumanizing institution that was slavery, that those horrors are some way somehow outweighed by the benefit that you get a trade. Are you kidding me?"

Ron DeSantis allegedly kicked Tucker Carlson's dog

It sounds like the kind of headline conjured up by a spoof news site. However, according to Michael Wolff, the author of "The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty," Ron DeSantis may have once deliberately kicked Tucker Carlson's dog.

The alleged incident occurred when the Florida governor accepted an invitation to the outspoken TV personality's home for a discussion about Rupert Murdoch's political allegiances. It seems fair to say that he won't be invited back again. Wolff wrote (via Intelligencer) that DeSantis failed to "observe any basics of conversational ritual or propriety, reeling off an unself-conscious list of his programs and initiatives and political accomplishments. Impersonal, cold, uninterested in anything outside of himself."

And things apparently got even worse: "The Carlsons are dog people with four spaniels, the progeny of other spaniels they have had before, who sleep in their bed. DeSantis pushed the dog under the table. Had he kicked the dog?" Wolff added that Carlson's wife Susie said she didn't ever want to be in DeSantis' company ever again.

Ron DeSantis publicly snubbed Democrat Gwen Graham

Ron DeSantis once again appeared to prove that he's one of America's most antisocial governors when he publicly snubbed a Congresswoman in a truly bizarre fashion. The incident happened at an airport in Florida and has apparently now become part of the state's political folklore.

Gwen Graham, who lost out to Andrew Gillum in the 2018 Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary, initially tried to start a conversation with DeSantis when she spotted him waiting for a flight. Instead of responding, the latter simply kept his earphones in, stared straight ahead, and failed to acknowledge her existence.

Graham, now working as an assistant secretary of education, has repeatedly gone on the social media warpath ever since to make her feelings about DeSantis crystal clear. In one tweet, she wrote (via Tallahassee Reports), "He is a cowardly, bully. He will turn and run when he can't use his office as a stage to make himself look fake big. He is tiny." And in another, she posted, "When I first met Ron, I knew something was really off. A key human component was missing. When bad people get elected, bad things happen."

Ron DeSantis also spent two whole years ignoring a colleague

Gwen Graham can perhaps take heart from the fact that she's far from the only political figure Ron DeSantis has snubbed. In fact, the Florida governor spent two years sitting next to Michigan Republican David Trott without ever saying a single word to him.

Trott told Politico that he found DeSantis to be incredibly rude from the offset: "I go to my first [House Foreign Affairs Committee] hearing early, and DeSantis showed up right at the gavel time and didn't say hello or introduce himself. And then the next hearing, the same thing happened. I think the third time it happened, I thought, 'Oh, this guy's not ever going to say hello to me.'"

Even when Trott made the effort to engage in conversation, DeSantis was having none of it. Luckily, the former doesn't believe that it's anything personal and that, instead, it's simply another sign of his colleague's inherent arrogance. "He wasn't really liked when he was in Congress," Trott added. State Senator Joe Gruters, Congressman Greg Steube, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez are just a few other political figures who have also spoken out about such behavior. 

Ron DeSantis is a ruthless boss

It seems fair to say that Ron DeSantis will never be up for any Boss of the Year award. Indeed, the amount of horror stories that have emerged from his camp over the years is enough to fuel a Ryan Murphy anthology.

DeSantis was so ruthless when it came to employment that he let go of no fewer than five staffers in his first six months as governor. According to Politico, several were let go for failing to clean up the mess he'd caused with a statement to Fox News deemed to be racist. Most horrifyingly of all, he also gave the head of the Florida Republican Party her marching orders the same week she returned from undergoing cancer treatment. 

"Loyalty and trust, that is not a currency he deals in," one unnamed individual said about the man who also allegedly had to be bribed to attend important meetings with cupcakes. "It's him and [wife] Casey. But everyone else is like a disposable piece of garbage." Many of those who have worked for DeSantis have been left so scarred by the incident that they've formed a special support group!

Ron DeSantis doesn't know how to say thank you

So it seems as though Ron DeSantis needs reminding that good manners cost nothing. The Florida governor has built up a reputation for his apparent aversion to the words "please" and "thankyou," even when in the company of his biggest donors.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, an anonymous Grand Old Party veteran revealed that DeSantis is well-known in political circles for his lack of gratitude: "People host events where donors give him enormous sums of money, and he never says thank you." John Catsimatidis, a billionaire New Yorker who's donated significantly to Donald Trump's campaigns, also confirmed to the Washington Examiner that DeSantis' rudeness has put him off ever backing him. "Why would I support somebody to become president of the United States that doesn't return phone calls?" he questioned.

If he's rude to the one percent, what hope is there for us mere civilians, you may ask? Indeed, DeSantis also treats his security with the utmost disrespect, with ex-government officials telling the Washington Post that he'd often leave food packaging in the car for them to clean up and that he didn't bother to learn their names, the latter apparently the norm when it comes to those who work for him.

Ron DeSantis left his name off a condolence letter

In 2022, the father of Anna Paulina Luna died in a car accident. Both Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump had previously given their endorsement to the Florida Congresswoman. But only one sent her a letter of condolence in the wake of the tragedy. And judging by his extensive list of antisocial behaviors, it's little surprise to learn who was so heartless.

Indeed, to make matters worse, Luna did receive a sympathy note from a member of the DeSantis family. But it was sent by Ron's wife, Casey DeSantis, and didn't feature a signature from the Florida governor or any other kind of input. Unsurprisingly, Luna declared her support for the 45th in the race for the 2024 presidential election. She told The New York Times, "Trump's operation is personal. You take the time to actually get to know the people you're going to be working with, and that does make a difference."

It was a similar story when Congressman Greg Steube ended up in ICU following an accident while tree-trimming. While Trump immediately phoned him to check on his well-being, DeSantis failed to make any kind of gesture at all. 

Ron DeSantis refused to a avoid schedule clash

Ron DeSantis didn't exactly endear himself to the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women in 2023 when he refused to reschedule a town hall meeting that clashed with their yearly fundraising event.

The organization had politely asked the Florida governor to rearrange, having planned their annual lunch months in advance. But DeSantis refused to back down, much to their disappointment and disdain. In a statement, they said, "It has always been a New Hampshire hallmark to be considerate when scheduling events. To have a candidate come in and distract from the most special event NHFRW holds in the year is unprecedented."

They weren't the only ones appalled by DeSantis' lack of courtesy. Mike Dennehy, a Republican strategist based in New Hampshire, told Politico, "It's the worst strategic move he has exhibited thus far. It's just stupid, actually. You don't take on the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women." Timing, in general, appears to be an issue for DeSantis. He also managed to annoy a whole host of fundraisers at another event by turning up two hours late, as one anonymous Republican told Vanity Fair: "He's missing the sociability gene. He doesn't do the warm and fuzzies well."