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Report: Trump Plans to Go After Ron DeSantis for Having the Charm of Reheated Tofu

Ron DeSantis has not yet announced he will run for president, but based on the reasonable assumption that he will, there’s one big question that keeps coming up around his odds of making it to the White House: Will voters take to a guy who has the charm of a protein bar? Donald Trump and his allies are trying their very best to make sure the answer is a resounding “No.”

Politico’s Meridith McGraw reports that as part of its quest to damage DeSantis going into the primaries, Team Trump plans to highlight the “personality factor” or, in the case of the governor of Florida, the lack thereof. According to the outlet, sources close to the ex-president say DeSantis “can be awkward and mechanical in public, and note he has largely avoided the press.” And, to be fair, they’re not the only ones who’ve noticed this. In January, reporter Jonathan Martin wrote that “the early rap on DeSantis from his fellow Republicans is that, for all his smarts and shrewdness, he lacks charm, and is either unwilling or unable to submit to the longstanding rituals of retail politics,” with donors noting his apparent inability for “forging connections with people.” The same month, New York Magazine’s Ed Kilgore questioned if DeSantis can “compete with Donald Trump’s sinister charisma.” And in a big profile of the Florida governor published in September, my colleague Gabriel Sherman summed up DeSantis’s “political future” as hinging on the question: “Can he lead the Trump cult of personality with no personality?”

Of course, the issue with DeSantis’s lack of charisma or charm is that he’s not just a blob in a boxy suit; he’s also a jerk. As Sherman reported last fall:

“The biggest complaint you hear about DeSantis is that he never says thank you,” a veteran GOP strategist said. “People host events where donors give him enormous sums of money, and he never says thank you.” While reporting this profile, more than a dozen GOP donors, elected officials, and former DeSantis staffers predicted that DeSantis’s combative temperament would be a serious liability if exposed to the white-hot glare of a presidential campaign. People describe DeSantis’s personality as a mix of extreme arrogance and painful awkwardness. “He’s missing the sociability gene,” a prominent Republican said, relaying an oft-stated critique. “He doesn’t do the warm and fuzzies well. I was at a fundraiser in DC where he was like two hours late. Everyone was like, What the fuck?” recalled a GOP strategist.

DeSantis’s offices have earned a reputation as very unhappy places to work. “When you work for Ron, he makes you feel like you’re just lucky to be there,” a former gubernatorial aide said. “I once had to drive him to the airport. We got stuck in traffic for an hour, and he didn’t say a word,” a former congressional staffer told me. “I describe him as having the personality of a piece of paper.” Last year, Politico reported ex-DeSantis staffers had formed a “support group” to commiserate over their bruising experiences. “He’s a terrible bully,” a past adviser said.

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