Ron DeSantis is shying away from voters, hiding behind his wife and putting people off with his awkward eating habits, staffers said, as his popularity slides in the polls.
Critics said the Florida governor, and Donald Trump’s likely White House challenger, appears to lack charisma and is socially awkward, with observers citing an incident when he ate chocolate pudding with three fingers.
Mr DeSantis is widely expected to run for the 2024 presidential election.
The 44-year-old Republican has managed to harness conservative anger over culture-war issues to become something of an “anti-woke” darling of the right.
However, some have questioned if he lacks the kind of charisma needed to turn popularity into national appeal. In the critical early primary states of New Hampshire and Iowa, candidates need to demonstrate their ability to engage voters one-to-one.
However, Mr DeSantis’s ability to connect on the campaign trail has been questioned by staff and former staff in an investigation by the Daily Beast website.
Those who have worked with him said he is a natural introvert but with the ability to turn the charisma on.
Observers noted Mr DeSantis tends to steer clear of the meet-and-greets and avoids the so-called retail politics Mr Trump excels at.
At public events, he has leaned heavily on his wife Casey, a former TV news anchor. One recent report even commented on his more bizarre awkwardness, including the chocolate dessert technique.
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