Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis showed a rare emotional side in an interview when speaking about his wife Casey’s successful battle with breast cancer, and the tragic sudden death of his sister Christina.
He met his wife — then a TV reporter — on a golf course where DeSantis noticed her gazing in his direction.
HIS version of events was that she was looking him over.
HER version is she was looking at his bucket of practice golf balls.
“I used the balls as a way to start talking to her,” he admitted. “So we started talking, we divvied up the balls and we hit ‘em. And then we went out after that and the rest is history, but I think in fact she was looking at the balls. I do think I was wrong!”
“So, you have a bunch of golf balls to thank for true love?” I asked.
“I do! And who would have thought that we both would have been there at the same time randomly on some random day in 2006. I’m just fresh into the Navy and she’s a local TV reporter at the time, and we just happened to hit it off.”
When did he know that she was the one?
“I would say pretty early, I was like ‘This is different’ and I made sure to court her. Of course, I got mobilized to Iraq, so we stayed together through all that, but I told myself as soon as I get back from Iraq, I’m popping the question and so we ended up doing that.”
DeSantis revealed for the first time how he proposed to Casey.
“I took her to a nice little resort in Florida and we were out on the balcony, and I had a nice ring, and I just dropped to the knee and asked her.
So the governor famous for never bending the knee to anyone bent the knee?
“Yeah, yeah. That’s the only time I’ve taken the knee!”
Casey said yes without hesitation.
“She’d let it be known that she was happy and that we were ready to go to the next level, so, I don’t think it was a super shock, but it was good to get that one in the win column, and I don’t think I could have done any better in life. Not just to have a friend, we have three wonderful kids, she’s a great mother, she’s a great first lady.”
“She’s really the whole package and there’s a picture that I have from the 2019 inauguration and then in 2023 sitting at the desk, same pose, she’s prettier in 2023 than she was in 2019, and she had a kid, she went through four years of this nonsense, and she beat breast cancer. How do you end up being prettier after four years of that? She finds a way to do it.”
When DeSantis ran for re-election last November, newly cancer-free Casey made a tearful campaign video tribute to him in which she said: “When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was faced with the battle of my life. He was the dad who took care of my children when I couldn’t. He was there to pick me off the ground when I literally couldn’t stand. He was there to fight for me when I didn’t have the strength to fight for myself.”
DeSantis never saw it before it aired.
“Through sickness and in health, good times and bad, that’s the job of a spouse, and to have her thank me publicly like that was very heartwarming,” he said.
“I didn’t know what she was going to say, I just said, ‘Don’t worry about my filter, don’t listen to anyone else, you just speak from your heart,’ so she kicked everybody out of the room when she filmed it except the camera guy and she just spoke from the heart. No script, and I think it told a lot of people about what we had gone through as a family. You never want to see anyone go through something like that. But there is something a little bit more poignant when you have a young mother that’s fighting for her life with these young kids because no kid should lose a parent like that, and that was a source of fight for her, a source of fight for me and we just had such a great outpouring of support from the community that it did lift her spirits.”
Did he fear he might lose her?
“You always have that fear but I’m a data guy and went and looked it up and I said, ‘You’re gonna beat it’ and she didn’t necessarily want to hear that because she was so scared just like anyone would be, but I’m like, ‘I looked at the data, I’m looking at the treatments, you’re gonna be OK.’ So, I really felt confident and the doctors had a plan, I talked to doctors all around the country and they all said to do the things that we ended up doing. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I absolutely thought she was gonna beat it.”
What was the lowest moment?
“The beginning because she went to the doctor, she felt something, but the doctor cleared her. They did a physical exam, said that ‘You didn’t have anything, don’t worry,’ and like me, if the doctor said I’m OK, I would never think twice about it. She had a feeling that there was just something wrong. So, she really fought to get a mammogram and so a couple of weeks later, we got it. I told her, ‘You’re fine,’ and then it came back (positive) and that was really, really difficult. It totally changes your life, changes your family’s trajectory.”
“Everything all of a sudden is up for grabs. So, I think that was one of the most difficult moments. And then I would say the chemotherapy. It just saps you. It’s putting like poison in your body and to see someone that you love go through that, it was really tough on her, but it’s also just, you hate to see it. It’s like ‘What can I do, I can’t make it all of a sudden get better.’ That’s why I was there, just being a helping hand, I went to all of the chemotherapies with her, and I got attacked by the left for not being in the office one day, but I was at the cancer center with her when they were saying that I wasn’t doing my job.”
DeSantis said he and Casey both shed tears when she rang the bell to signify that she was cancer-free.
“We had a big hug, I was emotional, and we celebrated a bit afterwards with Guinness! We both really like Guinness.”
Sadly, there was no such happy ending for DeSantis’ younger sister Christina, who was hospitalized in London with a blood clot in 2015 and developed a pulmonary embolism that killed her at just 30 years old.
He’s never spoken publicly about it, and teared up as he recalled:
“It was just a shattering experience. I remember my mom calling me, my wife and I were on our way back from church on a Sunday morning, and she said that Christina was in the hospital and she had a blood clot but was stable.”
“She was in the hospital for a couple of days and then had the embolism and died and I just didn’t think that was even possible at that point because I thought that she was stable. You have your sibling, their future was robbed and it’s something I wish I could get back. I know she probably would have moved back to Florida.”
“She was in Charlotte at the time working for a bank but she always wanted to get back here and so she would be here probably being involved in a lot of stuff that we were doing. I was the big brother so we were 7 years apart. So, we weren’t necessarily in the same school together or any of that. I was like rarefied air in some respect, she always looked up to me and I think some of it was because I was doing things, she would try to measure up to me and I told her, ‘Don’t worry about that. You just be you and do what you can do.’ And she was very successful. When she got out of school, she got her master’s and everything. So, it’s a tough thing. People have their whole lives ahead of them and when you’re talking about that age, it’s a big tragedy.”
DeSantis, a Catholic who prays every day, turned to his faith for solace.
“You start to question things that are unjust, like ‘Why did this have to happen?’ And you just have to have faith that there’s a plan in place, trust in God, there’s no guarantee that you’re gonna have a life without challenges and without heartbreak and that’s just a function of being human. And so it [his faith] was important for me.”
DeSantis, who looked fit and much trimmer than last year, has been the subject of rumor-mongering about his recent weight loss, some even suggesting — wrongly — that he’s on the trendy new diet drug Ozempic.
In fact, the former athlete and military veteran has been on a health kick since the new year to “get back into the swing of things,” deploying a “good regimen” that reportedly involves no carbs or desserts.
“Sugar is the biggest issue,” he said. “Because if you do sugar, your body burns sugar, if you don’t, it burns fat. So, if you’re working out and just eating halfway decent, that’s good.”
DeSantis was accused by the Daily Beast of eating a chocolate pudding on a plane with three fingers, suggesting he is some kind of gluttonous monster.
“I don’t remember ever doing that,” he said, laughing. “Maybe when I was a kid, but it’s interesting there’s a lot of people who when they go at you, sometimes they have really good ammunition like ‘You’re a crook, you did this, you did that.’ For me, they’re talking about pudding, and I’m like ‘Is that really the best you’ve got? OK, bring it on!’”
Watch the full interview on Thursday’s “Piers Morgan Uncensored” on Fox Nation at 9 p.m.
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