Plenty of simple questions over the years have tripped up presidential candidates: How many houses do you own? Why are you running for president? What are the three federal Cabinet departments you want to eliminate?
But the question Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, making his first trip to New Hampshire as a candidate for the GOP nomination, opted to dodge during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday may be even simpler: How do you pronounce your last name?
“It’s ridiculous, these stupid things,” DeSantis said. “Listen, the way to pronounce my last name: Winner.”
Fox News’ question was prompted by a report on Thursday morning in Axios about DeSantis’ campaign declining to specify whether to say the governor’s last name as “Dee-Santis” or “Deh-Santis.” In television ads and other appearances over the years, the governor has used both pronunciations.
The question has dogged DeSantis, who is of Italian descent, over the years. In September 2018, a TV station in Jacksonville reported on voters’ confusion over how to pronounce the then-gubernatorial candidate’s last name. At the time, his campaign said DeSantis prefers “Dee-Santis.”
DeSantis is considered the leading GOP presidential primary challenger to former President Donald Trump, who often refers to him as “Ron DeSanctimonious,” a pronunciation the governor almost certainly does not prefer. Polls give Trump a substantial lead over DeSantis, who formally launched his 2024 campaign last week.