JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — The man many people now call “America’s Governor” offered a glimpse of his personal life on Thursday. Speaking to a room full of supporters at a stop on his book tour, Governor Ron DeSantis told humorous and touching stories from his experiences as a husband, father and politician.
The governor’s memoir, The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival details Ron DeSantis’ political rise, the challenges and victories he experienced as Florida’s governor – and his vision for a national resurgence of liberty and patriotism.
The book placed at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list within 24 hours of its publication, leading to speculation that it could surge past book debuts from former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
DISNEY: TYING KNOTS AND PICKING FIGHTS
Several attendees wore shirts emblazoned with “DeSantis World” or “DeSantis Land” in Disney-style lettering.
The governor opened by celebrating his signing of a new bill this week, revoking Disney’s special status. He followed that up by telling the story of his wedding day, which coincidentally took place at Disney World.
At the time, DeSantis said he didn’t realize Disney hosted weddings, but supported his wife’s desire to get married there.
He recalled telling her: “That’s totally fine. It’s your day, I’m just along for the ride. But I’m not having Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck anywhere near this wedding.”
Once the crowd’s laughter died down, the governor acknowledged the irony behind the couple’s special day.
“Could we have thought in our wildest imaginations back in 2009 that when we’re tying the knot there that 13, 14 years later here I’d be in the ring tussling with the most powerful company in the history of the state of Florida?” he rhetorically asked. “Who would have thought that?”
PRAISE FOR FLORIDA’S FIRST LADY
DeSantis, who met his wife Casey while stationed at Jacksonville’s Mayport Naval Station, blanked on how long the two dated before getting married. The momentary lapse led to chuckles in the audience, prompting the governor to lean into it.
“Time flies when you’re having fun, so come on,” he said with a smile.
After calling Casey DeSantis America’s top First Lady, the governor marveled at his wife’s enduring beauty despite a tumultuous four years during his first term.
“I kid you not, after having another kid, after going through all the stuff with the government, after dealing with cancer, she’s prettier in 2023 than she was in 2019,” he said. “How do you do that? I don’t know.”
HOLY WATER FROM THE SEA OF GALILEE
Another story recounted an unfortunate mistake on Inauguration Day 2019. The couple decided to baptize their son Mason at the Governor’s Mansion following the ceremony. They used water from the Sea of Galilee that they had bottled during a trip to Israel before they had children. The goal was to baptize any and all of their children with the water.
But the next morning, the couple realized that a staffer at the Governor’s Mansion unknowingly had thrown away the water bottle. Fortunately, the governor told the story to members of a synagogue at an event weeks later.
“Within 24 hours, there were people in Israel fishing in the Sea of Galilee. They sent me this big, beautiful glass jar. No one would throw that water away. I had it on my desk in the Capitol until Mamie came in 2020 and we were able to use Sea of Galilee water for her.”
NO POLLS, NO PROBLEM
DeSantis underscored his commitment to governing on principle rather than popularity by pointing out that he doesn’t look at polls.
“You’ve got to know what’s in your heart, you’ve got to know what’s in your head about what’s best for the state. If you’re simply captive to polls, you’re not a leader,” he said.
“A leader goes out, puts out a vision, executes and delivers results. Then what happens? The polls will move toward you,” the governor added. “You need to be leading and shaping public opinion, not being responsive or captive to public opinion.”