Casey DeSantis will ‘move mountains’ to help her husband Ron succeed

Casey DeSantis is not a secret weapon.

We’re sitting together in February and I mention this trope.

The first lady of Florida rolls her eyes at the idea. She is not a weapon. She generally shuns media and the spotlight. She is not looking to be a star.

At that point, her husband, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was already very much in the conversation about the upcoming presidential race.

Casey is under new scrutiny.

Is she the mastermind behind the operation? Was she always planning to take her man to the top? Did Casey always know Ron would be this accomplished?

Three months later, articles like that, about her and about them, are standard.

Last week, Michael Kruse in Politico wrote just such a paint-by-numbers piece. In it Casey is “disengaged” but also “unusually important and uncommonly involved.”

Kruse’s piece is filled with quotes from grifters and haters, people who either don’t know the DeSantises well or rely on their downfall to collect a check.

It’s understandable why they would inspire jealousy and rage from people, just as it’s understandable that a liberal media outlet would be there to lap it up.

Couple next door

When you see the DeSantises together, they feel like the young couple who live next door. They have the easy banter of a pair comfortable together.

He marvels at how pretty she is, she jokes that he gets the kids riled up right before bed.

Casey and Ron DeSantis
Casey DeSantis tries to avoid media engagements if she can.
Getty Images

Casey told me how she met a cute Navy guy and didn’t really consider to what extent he would succeed.

I tell her about my favorite comedian, Nate Bargatze, who is enjoying a lot of success right now, and has a bit about meeting his wife.

He jokes that his wife was a waitress at the restaurant where he was a host and she didn’t think he was smart enough to be a server so, yes, he’s gotten further than she ever expected.

Casey laughs, because unlike a lot of people in the political world she has a sense of humor, but no, it wasn’t like that.

“I knew Ron was smart, was from a good family, was a good person, but never in a million years imagined where he would go.”

She talked about the early days when she was a reporter covering the PGA tour and he had written his first book, “Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.”

Casey acted as his booking agent and would call around to get him speaking engagements.

They’d drive long distances to talk to small groups of people. “We spent more money in gas than we made on the book,” she laughs.

It was when she saw him give his book talks that she started to see his trajectory.

“I saw his intellect and discipline for reading and analysis. He gets the data and does the research, himself. He’s constantly challenging himself.”

“People would say to him, ‘You should run for office,’ and I found myself agreeing with them. He has such a talent to communicate complicated policy in an easy way. He gets very in-depth.”

His recent travels are very different. Crowds meet the popular governor. Casey is having fun with it, telling me “Ron and I had so much fun last weekend in Iowa.

“I knew Ron was smart, was from a good family, was a good person, but never in a million years imagined where he would go,” she said.
AP/Lynne Sladky

We spent most of the trip debating which gas station served the best pizza and we both agreed it was a chain called ‘Casey’s.’ So if you hear Ron running around Iowa saying “Casey’s is the best” ask him if he is talking about me or the pizza!”

Pivots back

America loves the political couple but the concern in conservative circles is always that the spouse, usually the wife, will pull the politician leftward.

But Casey is able to easily articulate the governor’s positions, and her own projects, and tie them back to conservative philosophy.

I’ve listened to a lot of politicians’ wives talk about their pet projects and I’d never heard that before.

DeSantis speaks during the Florida Family Policy Council 18th Annual Dinner Gala at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida on May 20. 2023.

Casey is working on a number of initiatives, political and not.

During the election, she was the head of Mamas for DeSantis, a mobilization effort to target Florida’s moms and grandmas into political action.

She lights up when she talks about her passion project, Hope Florida, which uses the convening power of government to connect private and religious organizations with people in need of help.

It’s an innovative way to use government resources to create a resource bank of people who need assistance and introduce them to private entities willing to offer that help, without turning that aid into another giant government program.

Using connection to help people is Casey’s raison d’etre. She very publicly battled breast cancer in 2021 and that experience has made her focused on making the links to help others.

Another important project she’s working on is the Cancer Connect Collaborative which promises to “analyze and rethink the way Florida approaches cancer research, diagnosis, and treatments.”

It’s not the typical first lady fluff projects.

When she talks about cancer data, and getting working treatments to people who need it, it’s personal and it’s deep.

I tell her that when I’ve told girlfriends that I would be talking to her, they all wanted to know some variation on how she is doing.

But also: “How does she do it?” and “How does she look like that with three small kids?” were popular question requests.

“I saw his intellect and discipline for reading and analysis. He gets the data and does the research, himself. He’s constantly challenging himself.”

As for the way she looks, Casey shares that she gets her share of Internet hate about her appearance but she doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her.

People mock her perfectly coiffed hair. “I don’t let it get to me. I’m lucky to even have hair.”

She lights up when she talks about her husband. “He has a God-given gift. He is the real deal, in the fight for the right reasons.”

As for her? “I will move mountains to help him because he’s a good guy who is doing it right.”

As her husband nears jumping into the Republican presidential primary, Casey will inevitably be compared to other political wives in the spotlight.

Republican women bear the brunt of terrible news coverage.

Casey brushes off the hate.

For her, perspective is everything.

“No one is guaranteed tomorrow. I didn’t know if I’d get tomorrow. I’m honest to God happy to be here. I’m not going to let day-to-day things irk me. I’m so grateful to have another day. I used to just assume everything will be OK. It’s not a given that I’ll get to grow old and get to retire. The rest of the stuff just doesn’t matter.”

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