LACONIA, N.H. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out at a reporter — twice barking “Are you blind?” — at the end of his first campaign event in New Hampshire on Thursday.
DeSantis, who delivered his stock stump speech to an audience of more than 100 people at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Laconia, became noticeably agitated when Steve Peoples of The Associated Press asked why he wasn’t taking questions from the audience like most presidential candidates do in this state.
“People are coming up to me, talking to me,” DeSantis said. “What are you talking about? Are you blind? Are you blind? People are coming up to me, talking to me whatever they want to talk to me about.”
At the time, DeSantis was shaking hands and taking pictures with individual members of the crowd on his way out of the VFW hall. But he did not answer questions from his lectern so that voters could all hear his answers at once.
That decision was surprising and frustrating to some Republicans who came to hear DeSantis speak.
“There weren’t questions or any interactivity with the audience,” said Vikram Mansharamani, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the GOP Senate nomination in New Hampshire last year. “We like to hear from candidates and we have questions of our own [as] citizens here in the state.”
Mansharamani praised DeSantis for tackling topics of interest to voters, but — shown the video of the Florida governor after the speech — he said it’s not what he wanted to see.
“I find that very disappointing,” he said.