Americans are getting to know Gov. Ron DeSantis as he mounts a bid for the White House. Now, they’ll have to figure out how to pronounce his last name.
He’s gone back and forth between Dee-Santis and Deh-Santis over the years. In his presidential campaign launch ad on Wednesday night, he introduced himself as Dee-Santis, but in a follow-up video just a little later he went by the other one.
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry Thursday into the preferred pronunciation. But the Dee-Santis or Deh-Santis question — albeit a trivial one — has prompted puzzlement for several years in Florida politics.
As of late, it’s captured the attention of DeSantis’ political rival former President Donald Trump, who shared a Twitter post and video of the 44-year-old governor pronouncing his name differently. Twitter user “johnny maga” asked in the post, “Who changes the pronunciation of their own last name in their 40’s? Is there anything genuine about this guy?”
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Growing up, classmates referred to DeSantis as “Dee.” In an early 2012 campaign ad for U.S. Congress, DeSantis called himself “Dee-Santis.” But then in a 2016 video for the House Oversight Committee, he uses “Deh-Santis.”
He said “Deh-Santis” when he was sworn in as governor in 2019 and earlier this year, even though Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz used the “Dee-Santis” pronunciation.
In a 2018 report, News4Jax cited a source who attended DeSantis’ wedding and said the pronunciation “Deh-Santis” was used.
Former Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith explored the pronunciation question when DeSantis first ran for governor.
Stephen Lawson, a campaign spokesman, told Smith that DeSantis’ wife, Casey DeSantis, prefers “Deh-Santis,” while DeSantis prefers “Dee-Santis.”
Smith probed more deeply, asking if it was a source of friction between DeSantis and his wife.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Lawson said.