When Ron DeSantis was sworn in as the Governor of Florida in early 2019, few people predicted that within the space of a few years he would be the single most popular Republican lawmaker in America.
His no-nonsense, combative style has won the hearts and minds of conservatives all across the country. His popularity is also a result of his willingness to fight for his voters on the issues they care most about. Some of his crowning achievements have included his successful resistance to vicious lockdown policies as well as taking genuine steps to push back against the ever-growing threat of Silicon Valley’s censorship.
The saying goes that behind every great man is a great woman. In DeSantis’s case, that could be two women. As well as his wife Casey, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, DeSantis is supported by his press secretary Christina Pushaw, a 30-year-old communications professional whose ascent to the role speaks volumes about the possibilities available in the internet age.
In a profile from the Tampa Bay Times, it is revealed that as a strong admirer of DeSantis and his handling of the press, Pushaw wrote an email to the governor’s office expressing an interest in the role and her commitment to pushing back against “false narratives” and the “devastation caused by socialism” that risks arriving in America.
“If there are any openings on the governor’s comms team, I would love to throw my hat in the ring,” Pushaw wrote at the time, accompanied by her resumé. Within six weeks, she was Press Secretary to the Governor of Florida, one of the most scrutinized positions in American politics.
Having originally envisioned a career in the foreign service, Pushaw’s decision to pursue a career in conservative politics is largely born out of her time living in the former Soviet Union as a political consultant, which she says “strengthened my principles as a conservative, because I saw firsthand after seeing how toxic collectivism – the legacy of communism – destroyed these countries.”
“Take the example of Ukraine, which was part of the USSR, versus Poland, which was controlled by the USSR but not actually part of the Soviet Union,” Pushaw said in an interview with El American. “Thirty years ago, Poland and Ukraine were at the same level of economic development (very poor) after decades of Communism. Poland and Ukraine are similar in terms of geography, resources, and culture. After the fall of the USSR, Poland’s government adopted free-market policies and embraced conservative principles. Ukraine’s government remained stuck in the Soviet bureaucratic mentality in many ways, and the people have suffered from it. Now, Poland is many times wealthier and more developed than Ukraine, and millions of Ukrainians have migrated to Poland in search of a better life.”
As noted by the Times, Pushaw has “reinvented” the job of a press secretary since assuming the role earlier this year. Rather than spending her days putting out dry, evasive statements intended to cause minimum disruption and controversy, she uses her Twitter account and public profile to correct the record on what she describes as disinformation and smear campaigns from the liberal media. Her efforts have even led to censorship, with Twitter temporarily suspending her account over supposed claims of “harassment” against a reporter for the Associated Press.
“My role is to communicate Governor DeSantis’ agenda and ensure that the media has the information they need in order to cover it accurately,” Pushaw explains. “I make a point of answering every media inquiry that I can possibly answer, even if I know that the publication is biased. If a question is framed unfairly, I will challenge the premise, but I do offer detailed and timely responses to questions from the press. My feeling is that if reporters don’t have our side of the story, I cannot really expect them to cover it fairly – but when I do give a reporter our side of the story, and all the relevant facts to support the governor’s statements or policy positions, I expect that reporter to uphold his or her end of the deal and write a fair, unbiased story.”
“Calling out reporters on Twitter is the last resort. I only do that in a situation like the AP story on Regeneron a few months ago: I’d given that reporter all the information prior to his deadline, but he ignored the facts to push a false narrative anyway. In that case, when the traditional channels used by press secretaries (e.g., emails and phone calls with reporters) do not work, I have no choice but to go public to correct the false narratives and name the reporters who intentionally pushed those narratives. I don’t see it as ‘combative.’ I see it as a valid response to media activists who are acting in bad faith.”
However, Pushaw insists that she does not believe other press secretaries should necessarily follow her example, given that every politician has their own style and needs. Instead, she focuses on making the messaging as clear and as targeted as possible.
“I wouldn’t want to tell anyone else how to do their job, because it’s up to the politician they represent. I represent Governor DeSantis, who fights back at false narratives with the facts,” she continued. “Therefore, it’s not only accepted but expected that I do the same. Traditionally, conservatives have feared negative media coverage and hesitated to push back publicly when confronted with propaganda.”
“Yet times have changed, and one of the reasons Governor DeSantis is so popular is that he knows what time it is. He understands the need to directly challenge false or misleading media narratives, and he does not hesitate to do that whenever it’s warranted. Of course, he can’t spend too much time on it, because he has so many higher priorities as governor – which is why it’s my job (and the job of our communications team).”
Pushaw also offers some support to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, pointing out that she is merely doing her job by defending a president whose actions are often indefensible. However, she also points out that Psaki has the advantage of the support of the mainstream media, something that neither she nor any of Trump’s communications team benefitted from.
“Jen Psaki defends Biden, which I could never do, because I feel that his policies are indefensible. Unlike Governor DeSantis, President Biden is inarticulate and prone to making ridiculous, embarrassing, and false statements in public. It’s not easy to clean up those messes, but Psaki does her job.”
“In some ways, Psaki’s job is more difficult than mine, because I work for an articulate, intelligent, principled leader who has a thorough command of the facts and does not make outrageous statements that require his communications team to ‘clean up’ after him. But in other ways, Psaki’s job is easier than mine, because the entire mainstream media falls all over themselves to push the narratives of the Biden regime while attacking Governor DeSantis.”
“A few months ago, CNN’s Brian Stelter asked Psaki ‘what does the press get wrong when covering Biden’s agenda?’ In other words, CNN asked the White House Press Secretary how the media should help her do her job of pushing Biden’s talking points. This is the definition of ‘state media.'”
One of the principal reasons Pushaw chose to work for DeSantis was not just an admiration for his style, but his broader political vision and way of doing things, particularly his willingness to push back against the federal government with regard to vaccine mandates and his support for school choice.
“[This is] why I wanted to work for Governor DeSantis in the first place,” she explained. “He understands the threat our country is facing from the Left. He understands the necessity of fighting back. I disagree with some conservatives and libertarians who believe policymaking should essentially be left up to the ‘private’ sector (I use quotation marks because the size and power of the federal government mean that large corporations are under a lot of pressure to enact the Biden agenda, as in the case of vaccine mandates).
“[I also] disagree with progressives who believe policymaking should be left up to unelected bureaucrats in vast government agencies. Neither of these extremes will protect individual rights, and conservatism is about protecting individual rights. Governor DeSantis understands that.”
Even if Donald Trump should run in 2024, as appears increasingly likely, it seems inevitable that DeSantis will be a major player in Republican politics for decades to come. When asked whether she would ever consider joining him in the White House, she maintains that DeSantis is currently “completely focused on Florida, so there’s no point in speculating about that.”
Whether they stick together or move on to pastures new, one thing appears for certain; for both Pushaw and DeSantis, the sky is truly the limit.