DeSantis, who represented Florida’s 6th congressional district from 2013 to 2018, is described as an ambitious but ineffective "backbencher" who mostly kept to himself and had "no friends" in interviews with more than a dozen former GOP House colleagues.
Although DeSantis is given high marks for his executive leadership in Florida, his experience in Washington was largely forgettable, according to the report.
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“He wasn’t a friendly guy. He was a personal-agenda-driven guy,” one ex-congressional colleague said.
“I was with him in the gym every morning and could hardly get him to say hello. He didn’t seem like he liked being here.”
Said another ex-colleague: “He was a bit of a loner.”
His colleagues described him as “standoffish and aloof,” according to the report.
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“He didn’t ask about colleagues’ families or try to work with them on legislation,” the report said. “And he didn’t seem to enjoy the social nature of the often rambunctious House, where lawmakers need to nurture relationships and build coalitions and support to get things done.”
A House GOP committee chairman put it this way: “He was not a very effective member of Congress.”
But whatever differences DeSantis had with former GOP congressional colleagues doesn’t appear to be a deal-breaker for a presidential run.
“I think he’s done a hell of a job as governor of Florida,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said.
“I think that his ability to express himself in a national dialogue has been exceptional,” added Sessions, who served as House GOP campaign chief in 2012 when DeSantis was first elected to Congress.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) hasn’t endorsed DeSantis but is urging him to run.
“I think he should,” Bacon told NBC News.
“He’s done a great job down in Florida,” Bacon said, noting DeSantis’ decisive 2022 reelection victory.
“So he’s winning swing voters, Democrat voters. That’s what we need at the top, because that’s what it takes to win the presidency … we’ve got to have someone who can win suburbs and vie for the middle.”