The question of whether the Florida governor stands less than 5 feet 10 inches tall has been the subject of online speculation for months, based largely on the observable fact that his chosen footwear along the campaign trail—black cowboy boots—look very, very odd. Almost like he could be wearing height-boosting insoles to make himself appear taller (and thereby more presidential).
The deeply reported-upon conspiracy theory reached a fever pitch this week, when podcast host Patrick Bet-David raised the issue directly to DeSantis’ face. The governor declared, too quickly, perhaps, that he was 5-foot-11 and that his boots were “just standard, off-the-rack Lucchese.” Then Politico went and asked three experts about it. The shoemakers agreed that yes, DeSantis was fudging his stature to give himself about 1.5 inches of extra height.
Ron Desantis gets confronted today about why he is wearing lifts in cowboy boots to make himself appear taller. pic.twitter.com/LUbpuYVtZH
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) October 30, 2023
“I’ve dealt with these politicians many times,” Zephan Parker, the owner of a Houston-based bespoke boot maker, told Politico. “I’ve helped them with their lifts. [DeSantis] is wearing lifts; there’s no doubt.” Every aspect—the shaved heels, the wide shafts, where the balls of his feet are sitting—is a dead giveaway, the trio said.
Those wondering whether Trump had seen the story didn’t have long to wait. In a statement sent out hours after the article’s publication on Tuesday, the campaign sweatily declared victory, calling “#BOOTGATE” the “KISS OF DEATH” for the man once seen as his top rival in the Republican primary pool.
“Instead of telling the truth and just being comfortable in his own skin, he resorts to borderline psychotic behavior by lying to the American people,” the campaign crowed. “Is that what this country wants in a President?”
Trump, who notably declared himself a svelte 215 pounds upon surrendering at the Fulton County jail in Atlanta in August, apparently foresees more tootsie trouble down the line for “DeSanctus.” His campaign’s statement prophesied that soon, “Ron is going to wish for more pudding and in-flight biohazard stories instead of having to deal with his shoes that are more appropriate for America’s Next Top Model than the campaign trail.” (DeSantis is not believed to have been involved, either directly or indirectly, in the September incident wherein a passenger’s explosive diarrhea forced a Delta flight to turn around.)
DeSantis had not, as of Tuesday, directly commented on the internet’s burgeoning obsession with his feet and what he puts on them. But in a furious response to Politico, his press secretary, Bryan Griffin, denied that the Florida governor gets up to any boot chicanery. “The governor doesn’t pad his boots, but if he ever needed anything to line a pet cage or fold up and wedge under a table leg, that would be the highest and best use for Politico Magazine,” Griffin spat, apparently unaware of the fact that Politico’s magazine does not run in print.
what — and i cannot emphasize this enough — are thooooooose pic.twitter.com/uMy7kxR2n2
— Max Steele (@maxasteele) October 6, 2023
Whether or not DeSantis puts his boots on like a normal man, however, his remark to Bet-David that he wears run-of-the-mill Lucchese dealt “major brand damage to a great American footwear company,” according to the Trump campaign.
A spokesperson for Lucchese did not immediately respond to an email from The Daily Beast asking if they felt this was the case.