The Conservative Political Action Conference, an activist jamboree that has long been a hive of anti-political correctness, helped launch and sustain Donald Trump’s political career. But another Republican took the CPAC stage this week to deliver indignation and defiance that left little doubt he sees himself as an heir to the former president’s role as the right’s commander in America’s deepening cultural wars.

Addressing thousands at CPAC’s Orlando confab, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted what he called the country’s “biomedical security state” for encouraging vaccine and face mask mandates. He slammed corporations and universities for being “infected” with a “woke virus” that is trying to “tear at the fabric of society.” And the governor called on Americans to put on the “full armor of God” to combat liberals.

“They want us to be powerless. They want us to be voiceless. They want to delegitimize our founding institutions,” said DeSantis, who took a page out of Trump’s playbook and tossed campaign hats into the crowd as he walked on stage….

“People generally like what they see with Ron DeSantis,” said James Kofalt, a New Hampshire legislator and school board member who heads the 603 Alliance, a local conservative advocacy group. “A lot of people feel he has charted his own course, and has been a pretty independent-minded guy, and while a lot of politicians sit on the fence and try to appeal to everyone, I think Ron DeSantis has been pretty vocal on where he stands.”

Kofalt and other Republicans argue DeSantis has deftly positioned himself as a hard-edge fighter who can maintain the party’s appeal among rural voters while also wooing suburban residents worried about covid lockdowns and overreach in schools.

DeSantis, through a campaign spokesman, declined to comment.

But as DeSantis continues to raise his profile, some of his former staffers and other GOP activists have raised concerns about whether he has the personal charisma and retail campaigning skills needed to succeed in the national political spotlight…

DeSantis struggles to make small talk with donors and others, sometimes not even making eye contact at house parties, according to people who have met with him. One person who has worked closely with him in Florida described the Harvard-educated attorney as “incredibly aloof” while a donor who met him recently called him “painfully awkward,” speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe a private interaction.

DeSantis is “about as un-charming as it gets one-on-one,” said another person who has interacted with him, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about the Florida governor. “There’s a lot of hand talk. No ability or seeming desire to relate. It’s difficult to have a conversation with him. He gives you kind of these dead stares. But when he’s on stage, it’s a totally different story.”

At times, some Republicans said, DeSantis has seemed more interested in flaming culture divisions in Florida than governing. He took dozens of out of state trips in 2021 to raise money, according to invitations and other people familiar with his travel, usually on private planes that donors or other allies provided when requested, people familiar with the matter said. The governor rarely flies commercial….



The above Washinbgton Post piece might be filed under ‘lets slow the roll to Desantis…He has warts’….

Media HAS pushed DeSantis (Me included) as a possible counter to Trump running in 2024 and he IS the strong second choice for Republicans in every 2024 Republican President nomination poll….

image…DeSantis’s turn on CPAC’s center stage ….Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post