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DeSantis names president he’d take inspiration from — and it’s not one you’d expect

At the end of the fourth Republican debate, the four candidates were asked to name a president that would serve as an inspiration for their administration.

A potpourri of some of America’s most popular presidents were listed.

Chris Christie picked Ronald Reagan, whom he called “a slave to the truth.” Nikki Haley, unable to choose one, named George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. And Vivek Ramaswamy chose Thomas Jefferson — author of the Declaration of Independence and inventor of the swivel chair — for his “founding spirit.”

But when it was Ron DeSantis’ turn, he named a president who often goes overlooked.

“One of the guys I’ll take inspiration from is Calvin Coolidge,” DeSantis said to scattered applause.

“Now people don’t talk about him a lot,” DeSantis, who studied history at Yale University, said. “He’s one of the few presidents that got almost everything right.”

“Silent Cal” understood the federal government’s role, DeSantis added. “The country was in great shape when he was president of the United States. And we can learn an awful lot from Calvin Coolidge.”

Who was Calvin Coolidge?

Coolidge, America’s 30th president, was born in Vermont in 1872. The son of a shopkeeper, he climbed the political ladder to become the governor of Massachusetts.

He was elected vice president in 1920 alongside Republican President Warren Harding, who died unexpectedly in August 1923.

Coolidge, who was in Vermont at the time, had his father administer the oath of office early in the morning on Aug. 3 “by the light of a kerosene lamp,” according to the White House.

Throughout his presidency, he was “distinguished for character more than for heroic achievement,” Democrat Alfred Smith wrote.

A proponent of small government, Coolidge called on Congress to cut taxes and to avoid foreign entanglements.

During his six years in office, he balanced the budget every year. He notably detested constant government activity, once saying, “Don’t hurry to legislate,” according to his presidential foundation.

His “political genius,” according to reporter Walter Lippmann, was his penchant for “effectively doing nothing.”

“This active inactivity suits the mood and certain of the needs of the country admirably,” Lippmann wrote, according to the White House. “It suits all the business interests which want to be let alone … And it suits all those who have become convinced that government in this country has become dangerously complicated and top-heavy.”

Still, he signed into law several major pieces of legislation, including the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, which granted American citizenship to all Native Americans.

Coolidge left office in 1929, the year the Great Depression began ravaging the American economy and eroding his reputation, according to David Greenberg, a history professor at Rutgers University.

“Many linked the nation’s economic collapse to Coolidge’s policy decisions,” Greenberg wrote. “His failure to aid the depressed agricultural sector seems shortsighted, as nearly five thousand rural banks in the Midwest and South shut their doors in bankruptcy while many thousands of farmers lost their lands.”

Before he died in 1933, Coolidge told a friend, “I feel I no longer fit in with these times,” according to the White House.

In a 2021 ranking by historians, Coolidge placed 24th out of 44 presidents.

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