Ron DeSantis appeared in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, packing out the indoor venue he gave his speech in. The picnic, which was a family event and fundraiser for Rep. Randy Feenstra, was also attended by Sen. Joni Ernst and Gov. Kim Reynolds.
But according to the Associated Press, the story was that DeSantis showed “little effort” in trying to connect with the crowd of Iowa voters and grassroots activists one-on-one.
“DeSantis…made little effort to connect with voters one-on-one at a picnic fundraiser in Sioux Center as several hundred conservatives ate hamburgers.” https://t.co/vVGs0XMjBp— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) May 13, 2023
The Iowa visit, his second in two months, was expected to help address concerns about his sometimes awkward personal appeal as he met with Republican officials, donors and volunteers, all under the glare of the national media. But DeSantis devoted little time for selfies or handshakes in Sioux Center, where more than 600 people had gathered to see him at an event billed as a family picnic for U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra.
DeSantis left most of the politicking to his allied super political action committee, which had set up a table where prospective supporters for his yet-to-be-announced presidential campaign could sign up.
But was that true? In a word, no. For some reason, the AP found it necessary to tell an easily debunked lie. Immediately after the report, people began to post photos and videos of DeSantis spending ample time in the crowd, shaking hands, talking, and taking selfies. He even stayed afterward to cook hamburgers and thank volunteers.
DeSantis is working the crowd now after wrapping up his speech: pic.twitter.com/FnzPMSEzhU— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) May 13, 2023
DeSantis worked his way through the room for a bit after the event, shaking hands & taking pictures with some of the Iowans in attendance: pic.twitter.com/MvhoDiGZBe— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) May 13, 2023
The ratio was on at that point. Alex Thompson, who was not the writer of the article, got absolutely blasted for uncritically sharing the false article. You can click his original tweet above for a taste of how that went. Steve Peoples (the New York-based AP reporter who helped write the story) posted the same lie, and after similarly being ratioed to the moon, he issued an update to the story.
Respectfully I’m just really confused why this point is in the AP’s reporting so prominently when it’s obviously inaccurate. https://t.co/Z7A28pguEZ— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) May 13, 2023
What was the update? Well, it at least admits that DeSantis did meet-and-greet for a while, though it is buried at the very end of the article in direct contradiction to the paragraphs I quoted above (which remain in their entirety).
After his speech, DeSantis spent about 15 minutes shaking hands and making small talk with voters as he maneuvered through the large audience, trailed by reporters, TV cameras and a security detail. He then dashed outdoors to pose with Reynolds and Feenstra while tending to burgers and pork chops at the grill.
Lyle and Sonia Remmerde of Rock Valley managed a handshake. She said DeSantis’ style comes across as “normal.”
So, what’s the deal here? Why even bother being dishonest about something so dumb? The answer is that the press has a preferred narrative about every major Republican. For DeSantis, it’s that he’s unlikable and can’t connect with voters.
Now, I know what you are thinking. How did a guy who supposedly can’t connect with voters just win Florida, a previously purple state, by 19 points? The answer is that he can connect with voters. The entire idea that DeSantis is some rigid stiff who doesn’t know how to shake hands and small talk is simply false, but it’s what the media runs with because they otherwise really can’t lay a glove on him. What else are they going to attack him for? Winning every major political battle in the state he runs?
Be prepared for a lot more of this nonsense. The mainstream press is terrified of the prospect that DeSantis might be the 2024 nominee. They want to smother any chance of that in the cradle. I’d recommend they try a little harder next time, though, because this was the weakest of tea.