In a packed barn of more than 100 attendees, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis had the crowd laughing as she recalled bringing her 5-year-old daughter with her to an event last year.
“All of a sudden, who comes trotting back out on stage is Madison DeSantis, right? And you’re thinking what in the world is going on? And I start to get this tug-tug-tug-tug-tug on my shirtsleeve. Right? Do you know what she needed? She had to go to the bathroom, yeah,” she said Thursday.
DeSantis appeared on her own, speaking with an ease that underscored her former life as a prominent Florida news anchor. While it was her first solo campaign appearance as her husband, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, seeks the Republican presidential nomination, Casey DeSantis is no stranger to the trail.
She has been a pillar of her husband’s political career – amplifying his core message and combative rhetoric. In a crowded 2024 primary field, where former President Donald Trump is the front-runner, Casey DeSantis is seen by many in the Florida governor’s orbit as a powerful asset, highlighting the importance of marriage and family. In contrast, former first lady Melania Trump and many of Trump’s children have largely been absent from his campaign appearances.
Casey DeSantis chose the key early voting state of Iowa to officially launch her national initiative, “Mamas for DeSantis,” aimed at mobilizing mothers to support her husband’s presidential bid. “We are going to launch the largest mobilization of moms and grandmothers across the United States of America to protect the innocence of our children and to protect the rights of parents,” she said. A source familiar with the matter said Casey DeSantis didn’t only narrate the video announcing the initiative, she also wrote the script.
Shellie Flockhart, vice chair of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Dallas County, Iowa, said she is torn between DeSantis and Trump, but is drawn to the Florida governor’s family values.
“Parts that I think DeSantis is really strong in is his family unit, his wife, Casey, just that he’s very respectful of her. And he just loves her, you can tell. That’s very impressive and that she’s most of the time on the campaign trail with him,” she told CNN in Philadelphia last week at the Moms for Liberty national summit.
“That says a lot for what his wife thinks he is,” Flockhart added.
The Florida first lady has frequently joined her husband at his campaign stops, more recently walking with him in two July Fourth parades in New Hampshire with their kids. Drenched in rain at the Merrimack parade, Casey DeSantis walked down the street with her youngest daughter Mamie on her back at one point. Following the official launch of his campaign, in swings through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in early June, Gov. DeSantis handed the mic over to his wife to deliver her own remarks in the middle of his speeches.
At an appearance in Bluffton, South Carolina, Casey DeSantis, a College of Charleston alumna, said she loves how her husband is “not afraid to take the hits.” Someone honked their horn at one point during her remarks for several seconds driving through the parking lot. “If that horn is in response, to him, I’ll tell you he ain’t backing down,” Casey DeSantis said.
The couple shared a stage at an Iowa campaign stop and brought their kids with them to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s “Roast and Ride” event in Des Moines. The DeSantis campaign includes Casey DeSantis on its campaign event promotions.
As a former local Florida TV journalist, Casey DeSantis is telegenic, media-savvy and charismatic. She’s been advising her husband, a former congressman who was recently elected to his second term as governor, about his media strategy.
After Politico magazine published an article in May about his wife – “The Casey DeSantis Problem: ‘His greatest asset and his greatest liability.’ – the governor, who hadn’t yet announced his candidacy for president, stood up for their relationship.
“Some people even criticize me, because my wife and I have a good relationship, that we actually get along, and we actually confide in each other. Imagine that,” Gov. DeSantis said at the Florida Family Policy Council in Orlando. “We understand how important family is. We understand how important it is that parents in the state are able to raise kids in a healthy environment.”
Throughout her Thursday event in Iowa, Casey DeSantis had the audience captivated as she spoke about things both personal and political – her family, her diagnosis with breast cancer and her husband’s initiatives and policies in Florida.
“As long as I have breath in my body, I will go out and I will fight for Ron DeSantis. Not because he’s my husband, that is part of it. But because I believe in him with every ounce of my being,” Casey DeSantis said.
“If you want somebody to go up to Washington, DC, to clean house, to be able to put this country back on the trajectory where we are talking about our rights coming in from our creator, and our government being put in place to protect our rights that are ours, he is the man to do it,” she added.
“And if I have to criss-cross this country, I’ll do it.”