Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has kicked off his campaign for this nation’s highest office with stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. However, the Florida governor appears to be struggling to settle on the pronunciation of his own last name in the first week that he vyes for the Republican nomination.
During his campaign announcement video and a radio interview in South Carolina, he refers to himself as “Ron Dee-Santis,” but can also be seen pronouncing his name as “Deh-Santis” during interviews with Fox News, Glenn Beck, Erick Erickson, and Mark Levin. This begs the question: What is the correct pronunciation of DeSantis’ last name?
Despite the governor’s inconsistency, his wife Casey has always pronounced his last name as “Deh-Santis.” Nevertheless, when Axios asked Professor William Connell, chair of Italian Studies at Seton Hall University, about what the correct pronunciation might be, he responded by saying that ” ‘Day-Sahn-tees’ would be proper Italian, but sloughing it off as ‘Deh-Santis’ is common,” referring to the common practice of Italian Americans changing the pronunciation of their Italian surnames to be more anglicized. However, he noted that “’Dee-Santis’ is unusual because that would be spelled ‘DiSantis’ in Italian.”
Logically, several entities asked the DeSantis campaign directly about this, figuring that it would be the best source to correct the discrepancy. However, his political action committee which is dubbed “Never Back Down” declined to clarify. Further to this, the governor evaded questions on the subject even more when he declared that the correct way to say his last name is “Winner.”
While the motivation for DeSantis wanting the pronunciation of his name to be ambiguous is unclear, Former President Donald Trump wasted no time mocking his biggest competitor over the whole situation. In addition to resharing the video below on Truth Social to call attention to the “Deh-Santis” vs. “Dee-Santis” conundrum, Trump has also posted his own thoughts about it on Truth and had a spokesperson from his campaign raise questions over the governor’s ability to lead.
“Ron DeSantis is a phony who can’t decide how to pronounce his name,” said Steven Cheung on behalf of Trump. “If you can’t get your name right, how can you lead a country?”
Could it be possible that the governor is trying to shield his Italian background? Up to this point, DeSantis has not shared which region of Italy his ancestors are from, nor has he specified whether his ancestors changed the spelling of his name upon arrival. This can, at least in part, explain why at least five towns and two regions in Italy have claimed the presidential candidate as one of their own such as Castelfranci and Bugnara in the provinces of Avellino and Aquila, respectively.
Hopefully, we will receive more clarity on the correct pronunciation when the Florida Governor utters the words “I am Ron DeSantis and I approve this message” as he ramps up advertising in an attempt to lead “Our Great American Comeback,” as his campaign puts it.