Ron DeSantis Snaps at a Reporter: ‘Are You Blind?’

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida was mingling with voters on Thursday after his first campaign stop in New Hampshire as a presidential candidate when a reporter asked him a question: “Governor, how come you’re not taking questions from voters?”

Mr. DeSantis sharply disputed the premise of the reporter’s question.

“People are coming up to me, talking to me,” he said. “What are you talking about?”

But Mr. DeSantis did not leave it there. “Are you blind?” he asked. “Are you blind? OK, so people are coming up to me, talking to me whatever they want to talk to me about.”

The moment seemed to crystallize both Mr. DeSantis’s reputed temper and his adversarial relationship with the mainstream news media: As governor, he has frequently clashed with the press, and he generally prefers to give interviews in the friendlier confines of Fox News and conservative talk radio.

It also reflects how carefully Mr. DeSantis and his campaign have orchestrated his interactions with the public — a task that will grow more challenging under the national spotlight, especially in the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters expect to talk directly with candidates, including from the stage of their stump speeches.

On social media, the governor’s supporters were quick to point out that he has been taking questions from voters who approach him for selfies and autographs after his speeches. The main super PAC supporting his campaign tweeted a video of the interaction, framing it as an example of Mr. DeSantis shutting down “fake news.”

But Mr. DeSantis, who formally announced his campaign last week, has not yet held a public forum like the CNN town hall event that former President Donald J. Trump joined last month. Nor has he answered voters’ questions from the lectern after delivering his stump speech.

Mr. DeSantis is touring New Hampshire, where he sparred on Thursday with the reporter, Steve Peoples of The Associated Press, during a visit to Laconia. Some voters told news outlets covering the Laconia event that they were disappointed that Mr. DeSantis had not taken questions from the audience.

While Mr. DeSantis was largely able to stage-manage his media appearances in Florida, he may need to branch out to reach a larger audience as a presidential candidate. On Tuesday in Des Moines, he held a news conference, his first as a 2024 contender, where he called on a few reporters and answered their questions.

And so far in New Hampshire, Mr. DeSantis is taking more questions from members of the press — who peppered him with queries as he spoke with voters — than he has on previous campaign trail appearances.

At an event in Rochester, N.H., later on Thursday, Mr. DeSantis flashed a hint of truculence after a reporter asked him about Mr. Trump’s claim that he could fix the country’s problems in six months.

“Why didn’t he do it his first four years?” he shot back.

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