Politicians are human beings who need to consume food and water in order to live just like the rest of us. But they should really consider only taking in sustenance alone in a darkened room, just to be safe. Chris Christie is forever the governor who berated a guy while clutching an ice-cream cone. The only thing most people remember about Senator Amy Klobuchar’s 2020 presidential bid is that she was accused of eating salad with a comb. Mehmet Oz might be in the Senate today if not for his mistaken belief that Pennsylvanians were worried about the skyrocketing price of crudités.
Now, Ron DeSantis has been hit with a food-related accusation so weird it may end his 2024 presidential bid before it officially starts. The Daily Beast reported that according to two sources, the Florida governor once ate chocolate pudding with three fingers:
The chatter over DeSantis’ public engagement has also surfaced past unflattering stories about his social skills—particularly, his propensity to devour food during meetings.
“He would sit in meetings and eat in front of people,” a former DeSantis staffer told The Daily Beast, “always like a starving animal who has never eaten before… getting shit everywhere.”
Enshrined in DeSantis lore is an episode from four years ago: During a private plane trip from Tallahassee to Washington, D.C., in March of 2019, DeSantis enjoyed a chocolate pudding dessert—by eating it with three of his fingers, according to two sources familiar with the incident.
At first glance, this may not seem like such a big deal. Pudding is delicious. A finger makes an acceptable utensil in an emergency. And who among us hasn’t tried an odd food maneuver when trapped on a plane? The Daily Beast didn’t even focus primarily on the pudding incident; it appears at the end of a piece about how the Florida governor “struggles with basic social skills” required of a politician. But I’m calling it now: This story will follow DeSantis like pudding sticks to fingers.
The devil is in the details. The report doesn’t say DeSantis dipped a finger into his pudding sheepishly; he used three fingers, presumably as a scoop. And it’s established in the preceding paragraph that he regularly ate during meetings, “like a starving animal who has never eaten before… getting shit everywhere.” This paints a vivid picture of being trapped in a conference room with your boss as he shoves most of his hand into a pudding cup, scoops the goo into his mouth, licks his fingers, and goes back in for more, with chocolate still smeared around his lips. Disgusting!
Even worse for DeSantis is how funny the word “pudding” sounds. And it’s a dessert for children. The Florida governor wants to look masculine and tough, and there are already reports that Donald Trump plans to mock his primary rival’s height and weight. While I personally support people of all ages, body types, and gender identities consuming a deliciously chocolatey treat, it’s a bad look for a GOP presidential candidate.
DeSantis quickly denied the story, telling Fox Nation’s Piers Morgan, “I don’t remember ever doing that. Maybe when I was a kid.” Then he tried to reframe the pudding rumor as a sign of strength. “It’s interesting there’s a lot of people who when they go at you, sometimes they have really good ammunition like you’re a crook, you did this, you did that. For me, they’re talking about pudding, and I’m like is that really the best you’ve got? Okay, bring it on!”
To be clear, I’m not saying that voters are going to hear this story and instantly decide they can’t vote for DeSantis. But I do think the image will lodge itself in people’s subconsciouses. Pretend you’re a GOP primary voter listening to the Florida governor touting his record on flouting public-health recommendations, harassing migrants, and ridding schools of “wokeness.” Sounds pretty good, right? Now picture those same ideas coming out of a man who’s been credibly accused of licking dessert from his paw like a cartoon bear. How do those talking points sound now?
I know what you may be thinking: Wait, isn’t DeSantis’s biggest rival a guy who loves ketchup on well-done steak? Yes, Donald Trump being weird with various foodstuffs — from a taco bowl to Diet Coke to “dangerous” fruit — is basically a genre unto itself. But the 45th president has so many strange peccadilloes that it’s just become part of his oddball charm. And while Trump’s fingers may be short, at least he didn’t eat pudding with them.
This post has been updated to include DeSantis’s denial.
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