While it is clearly not the most important issue the U.S. is facing ahead of next year’s presidential election, there has nonetheless been significant media attention on the footwear choices of Republican candidate Ron DeSantis.
The Florida governor appeared on “Real Time with Bill Maher” several weeks ago wearing a pair of boots that sparked speculation about whether they contained lifts meant to make him appear taller.
Presidential candidate Ron Desantis claims he is 5'11, but some eagle-eyed social media users noticed his unusual cowboy boots, and many reckon he is wearing shoe lifts. pic.twitter.com/SX8XWy4ukk
— The Project (@theprojecttv) November 1, 2023
When he was confronted about the issue during a recent podcast interview, a new round of memes and social media commentary surfaced — and the Donald Trump campaign seized on the controversy with a statement labeling “bootgate” the “kiss of death” for DeSantis’ struggling campaign.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung cited a “scathing new article” in which Politico determined that DeSantis’ boots likely did contain inserts.
The statement went on to dismiss the “implausible explanation” that the boots were “off-the-rack Lucchese,” as DeSantis told host Patrick Bet-David, as well as his “laughable claim” that he stands 5’11” tall.
“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 statement asserted. “Is that what this country wants in a president?”
In an email to supporters, the Trump campaign touted the former president’s lead in a poll conducted by Bet-David and claiming: “This Halloween, Ron DeSanctimonious and team woke up to the horrific sight of seeing themselves getting dunked on all over social media for Ron’s bizarre choice in footwear.”
After reiterating the fact that multiple industry insiders told Politico that they believed the boots did contain lifts, the campaign email took aim at the governor’s supporters.
“The DeSimps melted down in defense of DeSanctimonious proving once again they’re nothing more than DeSanctus bootlickers (literally),” the statement concluded. “Maybe instead of focusing on lifting his height, he should focus on lifting his poll numbers.”
DeSantis has seen his political fortunes dwindle in recent weeks as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has made some important gains in various polls. While no one in the crowded presidential primary race is within striking distance of Trump, Haley and DeSantis are essentially tied for a distant second place in multiple recent surveys.