Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his campaign have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid questions from a 15-year-old New Hampshire schoolboy after the governor’s dodging of a question from him went viral.
“Do you believe that Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power, a key principle of American democracy that we must uphold?” Quinn Mitchell asked Mr DeSantis during a town hall event in Hollis, New Hampshire, in June.
“Are you in high school?” the governor asked before he avoided answering the question, instead saying that Americans shouldn’t obsess about the past.
Quinn, who has seen 35 presidential candidates since 2019, also told The Daily Beast that he was physically intimidated when allegedly grabbed by DeSantis campaign security at two events for the governor.
The teen told the outlet that it was a “horrifying” experience that he felt was an attempt at “intimidation”.
— The Recount (@therecount) June 29, 2023
Mr DeSantis attended a Fourth of July parade where Quinn was surrounded by security and physically restrained following a short interaction with the candidate. The security personnel demanded that Quinn remain until they gave him permission to leave.
Quinn said he was followed by two guards at an event on 19 August and an attendee told the outlet that they spotted a staffer from DeSantis Super PAC Never Back Down post a photo of him on Snapchat with the caption, “Got our kid”.
The Daily Beast reported that seven other sources confirmed Quinn’s version of events.
Quinn said the campaign’s treatment of him was “really stupid in a small state like New Hampshire”.
“I may be older now and know I can handle this a lot more, but if they had done that to me a few years back, I don’t know if I could have handled that,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because I just want to ask my question.”
Other candidates have had enthusiastic responses to Quinn’s questioning. When she was running in the 2020 Democratic primary, Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar met with Quinn and used his fascination with politics in her stump speech.
A rival of Mr DeSantis in the GOP primary, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, praised Quinn in a CNN interview, saying “he goes to every town hall meeting … he asks really tough questions”.
“Quinn, remember me when you are president,” he said in a profile of Quinn in USA Today.
The teenager said hadn’t been intending to land a damaging blow to Mr DeSantis with his question about the insurrection, telling The Daily Beast he “genuinely felt bad about it”.
In fact, he said, he attended the Fourth of July parade to personally say so to Mr DeSantis. But once he arrived, Quinn told the outlet that Super PAC staff “were nudging the security guys and pointing at me.
“I actually had a reporter come up and just say, ‘They’re pointing at you and they’re watching you.’”
In addition, he said, guards would physically block him every time he came close to the governor during the parade.
“I’m so sorry that I got you in all that trouble,” he said when finally within earshot and asked if he wanted to answer the question differently.
Mr DeSantis nodded, acknowledging the question, and they had a quick handshake before Quinn was pulled away by security.
“Usually what they do is they don’t push you or anything, but they put their hands out and kind of body you, so you just don’t move, basically,” he told The Daily Beast.
A guard cornered him and told him not to move for five minutes. Quinn then texted his mom, and they were able to reunite at the end of the parade, with his mother demanding an explanation from Mr DeSantis for why his guards had grabbed her son, a moment seen by a reporter for the Boston Globe.
Quinn said Casey DeSantis told his mother: “Well, I’m a mother, too. I know what you’re experiencing, and we’re all very afraid for our children — even if they’re exaggerating.”
Mr DeSantis himself told Quinn he would “get to the bottom” of what happened and that told him to attend his next event.
“The campaign, they could have called and said, ‘We’re so sorry, this should have never happened, we’ll get to the bottom of it,’” Quinn said. “Never got a call like that. They never apologized to us for any of it.”
The Independent has reached out to the DeSantis campaign for comment.