Ron DeSantis gets the front runner treatment

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CNN

On Wednesday alone, two BIG articles were published about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The first, in The Spectator World, is a deep dive into DeSantis’ childhood and his hometown of Dunedin.

The second, written by the incomparable Mark Leibovich in The Atlantic, seeks to discover who DeSantis really is and what drives him.

These twin profiles are revealing – not just in what they say (more on that in a moment) – but that they were assigned. Because publications don’t commission that kind of deep dive into people who don’t matter. They commission these pieces to people who are very important.

What these stories show is that DeSantis is now getting the digging, probing, and nudging that comes with being (one of) the potential frontrunners for a presidential nomination.

When you have the poll numbers — and the momentum — that DeSantis has following his convincing re-election win, these kinds of stories are made.

And they can have a major impact on how a politician is presented to a national audience. (DeSantis himself will release an autobiography early next year.)

So what do these pieces say about DeSantis?

The Spectator World One is largely positive — by a conservative author in a conservative publication — and explores where DeSantis grew up, where he went to school, and what his parents are like. (The reporter briefly interacted with DeSantis’ parents, who, perhaps understandably, are shy about the media.)

The Atlantic article is more insightful in my opinion – perhaps a consequence of the fact that nobody writes these types of profiles better than Leibovich.

The main conclusion?

“People in the know [DeSantis] are better and have watched him longer are skeptical that he can compete with the former President. DeSantis, it is said, is not a thoroughbred political athlete. He can be clumsy and clumsy. and [Donald] Trump tends to eviscerate guys like that.”

Which is very Interesting. Leibovich’s image of DeSantis is very different from that constructed by the governor himself: a warrior against “awakened” culture who has stood against liberals and won time and time again.

Of course we are all more differentiated than a one-dimensional view. And it’s possible that DeSantis is both stiff and someone who can effectively appeal to the Republican electorate at large.

The point: The design of DeSantis has begun. And how he emerges from that initial review process could tell us a lot about how viable he would be against Trump.

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