‘Are You Blind?’: Ron DeSantis Snaps At Reporter Asking Why He Won’t Take Questions

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held his first New Hampshire campaign stop on Thursday as a Republican presidential candidate — and capped it off by snapping at a reporter who asked why he keeps avoiding publicly taking questions from voters at his events.

DeSantis was posing for photos with attendees after the event when Associated Press reporter Steve Peoples approached him and asked why he won’t take questions from the people attending his campaign events.

DeSantis didn’t take questions once again at Thursday’s event in Laconia, New Hampshire, which breaks with a tradition in the state where presidential candidates often engage in extended Q&A sessions with voters.

NBC News captured the tense moment on video.

“Why not take any questions from voters, governor?” Peoples could be heard asking as DeSantis posed for a photo.

“Governor, how come you’re not taking questions from voters?” he asked again.

As soon as he was done with his photo, DeSantis lashed out at Peoples.

“People are coming up to me, talking to me. What are you talking about? I’m out here working with people. Are you blind? Are you blind?” said the governor.

“I’m not blind, no,” replied Peoples.

“OK, so people are coming up to me,” said DeSantis, “talking to me [about] whatever they want to talk to me about.”

Here’s the video clip:

In New Hampshire, dozens of municipalities still govern themselves by holding annual town meetings — with the unwieldy type of democratic participation immortalized by painter Norman Rockwell. The New England tradition of direct voter engagement has long spilled over to the Granite State’s presidential campaign events, and has been a part of New Hampshire’s argument for maintaining its status as the first-in-the-nation primary.

The late Arizona Sen. John McCain, who won New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primaries in both his 2000 and 2008 bids for the presidency, was famous for relishing in the back and forth with town hall attendees in the state. More recently, every major Democratic presidential candidate, including now-President Joe Biden, regularly took questions from New Hampshire voters ahead of the 2020 vote.

Yet, former President Donald Trump easily won the state in 2016 while exclusively delivering monologues at raucous rallies that no one would mistake for Athenian assemblies. It was also rare for Trump to directly interact with voters at diners or engage in traditional retail politicking.

The early days of the 2024 race have seen plenty of skepticism about DeSantis’ retail politics abilities, along with decisions from Trump to embrace the types of surprise stops at restaurants and unscripted interactions with voters he once neglected.

Rep. Ro Khanna, a progressive Democrat from California who recently appeared at a state party dinner in New Hampshire, took a shot at DeSantis over this week’s incident.

“Free advice Ron,” Khanna said on Twitter. “In the Granite state, get rid of your entourage & stick around to answer every question. I know it’s a quaint idea. But the state still believes in town hall democracy.”

Kevin Robillard contributed reporting.