“He wasn’t a friendly guy. He was a guy driven by a personal agenda, ”said the legislator. “I was with him in the gym every morning and I could barely get him to say hello. It didn’t seem like he liked being here.

Another Republican legislator was even more critical: “Who would like to have a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a beer? His wife. Ron never. He is not very collegiate. Let me say that he is in the right branch of the government, that he is the executive”.

A DeSantis campaign spokesperson had no comment for this article.

‘Her time is now’

Still, nearly every House Republican interviewed for this article praised DeSantis for how he has led Florida, from quickly reopening the state after Covid restrictions to fighting the liberal «wake-up» agenda in schools. and businesses and highlighting border security issues in bringing migrants to liberal Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Many encourage him to run for president in 2024.

“I think he’s done a great job as governor of Florida,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who was the House GOP campaign manager when DeSantis first won congressional election in 2012.

“I think his ability to express himself in a national dialogue has been exceptional,” Sessions said, adding that many Republicans in Texas would support him.

While Sessions has yet to endorse anyone for president, other House Republicans are openly urging DeSantis, who made his first visit to Iowa over the weekend, to enter the race against former President Donald Trump. The lawmaker who recently spent time with DeSantis said it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll run in 2024.

«Hell yeah, he’s running,» the lawmaker said.

Moderate Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, a retired Air Force veteran, called DeSantis, a former Army attorney general who was legal counsel for a SEAL team in the Iraq war, a «good listener,» and he added that many of his top bosses in the military were «introverts» like DeSantis.

DeSantis listens at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2013. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

“I haven’t endorsed anyone, but I’d like to see them run. I think she should. He’s done a great job in Florida,” Bacon said, noting that DeSantis won re-election last fall by nearly 20 percentage points in once-purple Florida.

“So he’s winning undecided voters, Democratic voters. That’s what we need at the top, because that’s what it takes to win the presidency,” he continued. «And we have to have someone who can win the suburbs and compete for the middle.»

TO cnn poll released Tuesday showed DeSantis gaining popularity among likely Republican voters and Republican-leaning independents; 36% said they supported DeSantis, while 40% supported Trump.

“I can’t see him waiting four more years than a junior Heisman winner playing more college football before going into the NFL draft,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, RN.D., who served with DeSantis in the House, said in a interview. “He continues to impress as governor, but we all know how quickly that can change due to circumstances within and outside of his control.

«Your time is safe now, later maybe.»

chain of events

DeSantis’ path to the Governor’s Mansion was not a straight line. Along with Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Mick Mulvaney, he was one of nine founding members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which pushed Chairman John Boehner, R-Ohio, into early retirement in 2015 and later blocked Kevin McCarthy, R. -Calif., to succeed him as speaker.

DeSantis launched a run for the Senate the same year after Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., launched into the presidential race. But when Rubio lost his home state to Trump and sought re-election, DeSantis decided that he would stay in the House.

The chain of events was fortuitous, setting DeSantis on his way two years later to the governor’s office, an executive position that his former colleagues say is a much better fit for him. DeSantis had trailed the Republican nominee, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, for much of the 2018 race, but rose in the polls after Trump gave him his full endorsement. DeSantis led Democrat Andrew Gillum by 0.4 percentage points in the general election.

With DeSantis now threatening to challenge Trump for the party’s nomination, Trump paints it as disloyal, saying that «might» regret his past patronage. “He was dead as a dog. He was a dead politician,” Trump told reporters on a flight to Iowa this week.