A Day with DeSantis

A Day with DeSantis. By Steven Hayward.

The middle of my week was a visit to Tallahassee to meet Gov. Ron DeSantis and several of his senior staff, followed by dinner with the governor and Florida’s first lady Casey DeSantis at the Governor’s Mansion in the evening. I was along with a small group of our friends at the Claremont Institute …

First, there was zero talk of presidential politics. Our conversations were entirely focused on policy matters at a very granular level, usually proceeding several steps up the ladder to the fine points of the issue, whether it was campus wokery, immigration, health care, the environment, and even Florida’s difficult property insurance problems. Needless to say, this means we did not spend a single moment discussing Trump or any of that drama.

That said, it is clear that Gov. DeSantis has a deep grasp of the difficulties and divisions in the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and his own disposition about these matters is refreshing and sound.

Second, both the governor and the first lady are extremely energetic. And it is clear they do their homework. On every issue, Gov. DeSantis was completely conversant with the fine grain details. He is a clearly a policy wonk, but with the added crucial dimension that he understands the fundamental political principle at work.

He understands the nature of the administrative state and the threat it poses to constitutional government. He has plenty to say on the issues, but also asks good questions and listens carefully to the answers. (This was clear over dinner when he came back to follow up on specific things we brought up in the afternoon.) I’ll add that his senior staff present at both meetings are very impressive. …

One thing we did not talk about, with the partial exception of a couple of specific China-related matters that fall under state jurisdiction, is foreign policy. …


DeSantis is the real deal. He was at ease immediately with a group of voluble strangers, displayed none of the ego or self-regard that so often attaches to governors (or senators, or. . .), and is utterly fearless, all of which adds up to a person in command of his political domain.

As Churchill reminded us, it is not possible to guarantee success; it is only possible to deserve it. DeSantis deserves it.