“Unfortunately, we lost that first baby,” DeSantis said, describing how he and his wife, Casey, struggled to grow their family. “And it was a tough thing because this is something that we had so much hopes for. So much aspirations, but, you know, we just kept the faith.”
Both men, speaking to the gathering of evangelical Christians in Iowa two months ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation GOP caucuses, stressed the role of their religion in coping with their losses, which they had not previously shared on the campaign trail.
“We wanted to have a family and it didn’t happen at first,” DeSantis said, sitting at a table with Ramaswamy, fellow GOP primary rival Nikki Haley and Family Leader CEO and President Bob Vander Plaats, a longtime GOP powerbroker who is expected to endorse a candidate in the Republican primary soon.
“We eventually took a trip to Israel, when I was a US congressman,” DeSantis continued. “We literally went to Shiloh with Hannah’s Prayer. We went to Ruth’s Tomb and Hebron, Ruth, Chapter Four, Verse 13. And we prayed, we prayed a lot to have a family, and then lo and behold, we go back to the United States, and a lot of time later, we got pregnant.”
After the miscarriage, DeSantis said, he and his wife “just kept praying. We knew that there would be a path that God will lead us on. And lo and behold, you know, short time after we did it, and we had our first baby girl.”
DeSantis said that he and his wife are celebrating their eldest daughter Madison’s seventh birthday next week before Thanksgiving.
The Florida governor often hits the campaign trail with his wife and three children. While he has shared personal stories on the trail, such as meeting his wife, going through her battle with breast cancer, hearing his daughter’s heartbeat for the first time or baptizing his children with holy water from the Sea of Galilee, this was a story he had not previously shared.
It was a particularly touching moment during the forum – which was a mix of policy and personal – and not long after, Ramaswamy shared his own experience.
The tech entrepreneur revealed that his wife, Apoorva, had a miscarriage before getting pregnant with their eldest child, noting that it was the first time he’s shared the personal anecdote.
On stage at the forum, Ramaswamy recalled how his wife had nearly completed her medical residency when she got pregnant, a few years after they were married. He said they were “ecstatic” and “weren’t expecting the blessing, but we were grateful for it.”
“And about three and a half months in, you know, Apoorva, one day she woke up, she said ‘I’m bleeding.’ She had a miscarriage,” he said. “We lost our first child and that was the loss of a life. it was our family’s loss.”
Ramaswamy said his wife went through a state of depression following the miscarriage and that “our faith is what got us through it.”
She got pregnant again shortly afterward but “God wasn’t done testing us,” Ramaswamy recalled.
Apoorva experienced bleeding, leading them to worry about another miscarriage, but at a doctor’s appointment, “they found a heartbeat that was our son, that was our son Karthik.”
He then brought his eldest son on stage and kept him on his lap during the forum.
The two candidates, who were sitting next to each other, did not verbally acknowledge one another’s shared experiences.
For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com