Ron DeSantis’ debate choice of favorite President is ‘one that people don’t talk about much’

coolidge desantis
The Governor held forth on what a dim view the 30th President would have on current state of the federal government.

Asked to choose an inspirational President at this week’s debate, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pick is not one that has roused much talk of a Mount Rushmore annex — even if he was in office when they started chiseling.

President Calvin Coolidge, DeSantis said, “got just about everything right.”

His fellow debaters made choices that need not get Google working so hard.

Former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley perhaps got greedy and picked two: founding President George Washington and the man credited with saving the nation, President Abraham Lincoln. Vivek Ramaswamy picked another immortalized in rock: President Thomas Jefferson. And Chris Christie went with a modern Republican hero in President Ronald Reagan.

With Reagan, Washington and Lincoln taken by his turn, DeSantis — the Yale University history major and a former history teacher — mentioned Coolidge.

“People don’t talk about him a lot,” DeSantis said.

But that choice served up an opportunity for DeSantis to dive into what a dim view the 30th President would have of the current state of affairs.

“We need to restore the U.S. Constitution as the centerpiece of our national life,” DeSantis said. “And that requires a President who understands the original understanding of the Constitution … who knows how we’ve gone off track with this massive fourth branch of government, this administrative state which is imposing its will on us and is being weaponized against us.”

Coolidge, who got the job when President Warren Harding died, presided over an economic heyday — the Roaring ‘20s — perhaps made possible by low taxes and deregulation. Coolidge largely escapes blame for the Great Depression, which followed eight months after he left office. He is also credited with signing the Immigration Act of 1924, which established quotas for immigrants based on country of origin, completely excluding immigrants from Asia.

“Silent Cal knew the proper role of the federal government,” DeSantis said as he asserted that the country was in “great shape” when he was President. 

That choice produced some scoffing from Coolidge’s native state of Vermont. Garrison Nelson, retired from 50 years as a political science professor at the University of Vermont, said that Coolidge, elected President once in his own right, was hardly a standout in the pantheon of Presidents.

Nelson’s latest book, “John William McCormack: A Political Biography,” focuses on a Massachusetts politician elected the year before Coolidge left office, later ascending to Speaker of the House. Nelson has been interviewed thousands of times, as Vermonters former Gov. Howard Dean and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pursued the presidency.

“He was as colorless as tapioca,” Nelson said of Coolidge.

Later, at an appearance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Thursday, DeSantis expounded further on his Coolidge fandom, waving away his pick’s proximity to perhaps the country’s worst economic cataclysm that first hit Wall Street as a Black Tuesday in October 1929.

“And then of course, they eventually had under Hoover, the Great Depression,” DeSantis said. “Had Coolidge been in there, they probably would have gotten through that much better because he was just really, really good.”

Nelson’s reading of history implies it wasn’t just a taciturn nature that earned Coolidge the sobriquet “Silent Cal.”

“He slept half the day,” Nelson said. “He was probably the laziest President ever.”


Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • My Take

    December 7, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Silent Cal may have been the exact opposite of Blathering Ron.

  • George Navarini

    December 7, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Interesting…over four decades ago, when asked the same question, President Ronald Reagan gave the same answer.

    And the liberal media made the same disparaging remarks.

    • TJC

      December 7, 2023 at 4:15 pm

      I’d bet that DeSantis was well aware that Reagan gave the same answer, our Governor is not one for originality. Reagan, you may recall if you’re old enough, promised to eliminate the deficit and scale back federal agencies starting with the Department of Education. Instead, he quadrupled the deficit and expanded the Department of Education into a big anti-public school machine that extolled the virtues of private religious schools. Conservative presidents only dislike big deficits and big bureaucracies when someone else is president.

      • Earl Pitts "The Ronald's Un-Official Campaign Manager" American

        December 8, 2023 at 9:20 am

        Good Mornting America,
        Watch as the Dook 4 Brains Lefty’s scramble in their limp johnson attempts to disparage the “Sage Wisdom” of our “Next Commander In Chief” Ron DeSantis’s choice of Great Past President.

        • Silly Wabbit

          December 8, 2023 at 12:24 pm

          You scwambled.

        • rick whitaker

          December 8, 2023 at 6:17 pm


  • rick whitaker

    December 7, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    tjc, raygun was always my pick for worst president until trump came along

  • Mark

    December 7, 2023 at 5:39 pm

    DeSantis cleaned house and stood out to be the best leader in a very long time to be priviledged to case our vote for.

    • rick whitaker

      December 7, 2023 at 6:21 pm

      mark, who are you talking about, desantis is horrible. it just goes to show that some people are happy with the empty box that the valuable gift came in. that’s understandable if you are a 3 year old. i just think you have low standards. you said he cleaned house, is that what you call bringing in grifters and syncopaths? i guess we all can’t be good judge of character.

  • My Take

    December 7, 2023 at 6:17 pm

    DeSScumtis does stand out as a high-achieving but otherwise still typical redneck dreg.

  • My Take

    December 7, 2023 at 6:38 pm

    DeSSantis likes to babble about almost anything in the news. With all the recent national attention and Rep. Luna’s deep involvement, why does no one ask his position on flying saucers and alien space monsters?

  • Michael K

    December 8, 2023 at 8:15 am

    When informed that Coolidge had died, Dorothy Parker quipped, “How could they tell?”

  • My Take

    December 8, 2023 at 11:04 am

    At a dinner or such, a lady told Cal that she hàd a bet she could make him say more than two words.
    “Yoù lose,” he said.

    (I love Parker’s quips.)

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn