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VICTOR JOECKS: 7 things you don’t know about Ron DeSantis

He’s one of the most famous elected officials in America, but there’s a lot people don’t know about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

I had the chance to interview him last weekend when he visited Las Vegas. Officially, he was promoting his book, “The Courage to be Free.” But it’s clear he’s preparing to run for president. Here’s some of what I learned.

1. His theory of leadership: Most politicians adjust their views in response to polling. DeSantis takes the opposite approach. “I’m not just going to take a static analysis and let that tie my hands, because I really believe you can shape public opinion through strong leadership,” he said.

Things would change dramatically in Nevada if more Republican leaders had his political skills and the guts to emulate that outlook.

He wrote in the book that he didn’t take polls once he became governor. I asked how his political adviser reacted to that decision. “I didn’t have a political consultant at the time,” DeSantis said. Wow.

2. Why he’s going to make his kids work: His experience as an undergraduate at Yale is one of the most striking parts of his book. He found the most privileged students had the most entitled mindsets. In contrast, DeSantis worked constantly during school to pay his bills.

DeSantis and his wife, Casey, have three young children. They will enjoy more advantages than DeSantis had, but he and Casey don’t want everything handed to them.

“We do wrestle with: How do we make sure that they’re a little bit more grounded and they don’t think somehow that people owe them anything?” he said. Part of that will be getting a job. “They are going to work. Just as I worked, they are going to work.”

3. How Republicans should respond to ballot harvesting: DeSantis thinks ballot harvesting is “bad policy.” It’s banned in Florida. But many states, including Nevada, allow it. Previously, former president Donald Trump urged his supporters to vote in person on Election Day and not through the mail. DeSantis takes a different approach. “Whatever the rules are, it’s our responsibility as Republicans to utilize those to our advantage,” he said. “So, Nevada allows ballot harvesting. We need to ballot harvest.”

4. How Republicans can win on environmental issues: Most Republicans do their best to ignore environment issues or eventually side with the left. DeSantis has taken a different approach in Florida.

You protect the environment, “because you want kids, grandkids and the future generations to enjoy it,” he said. “I think that the left, their view of environmentalism is kind of a penal environmentalism.” That’s where the political opportunity lies. “They’ve given us an opportunity to just be commonsense good stewards in a way that has really, really broad public support,” he said.

5. His favorite baseball players: DeSantis played baseball growing up and at Yale. His team even made the Little League World Series one year. Growing up, he watched the Atlanta Braves. His favorite players were Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr.

6. His thoughts on his wife’s golf game: He met Casey at a driving range and had this to say, “She probably had a better swing than I did, and she certainly looked better in golf attire than I did.”

7. His favorite Bible verses: He quoted Ephesians 6:11, which is about putting on the full armor of God. He also mentioned 2 Timothy 4:7, which reads “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” Great verses.

They’re also very fitting, given the race he appears poised to begin.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at noon with Kevin Wall on AM 670 KMZQ Right Talk. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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