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[Politics] 15-year-old shakes up New Hampshire with tough questions for Ron DeSantis and other 2024 hopefuls


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By Emma Barnett and Alec Hernández
Quinn Mitchell has asked Joe Biden about Donald Trump’s impeachment, Chris Christie about his past decision to stand by Trump, and Amy Klobuchar about the Mueller investigation. But no question the New Hampshire 15-year-old has asked has generated a response quite like his query to Ron DeSantis earlier this year.

Mitchell, a high school student and aspiring journalist, has made a hobby of attending presidential campaign events in politics-crazed New Hampshire, going to more than 85 events and meeting more than 35 White House hopefuls in the past two elections. That’s what brought him to a DeSantis event in Hollis on June 27, where he asked the Florida governor a question on a lot of people’s minds. 

 

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“Do you believe that Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power — a key principle of American democracy that we must uphold?” Mitchell asked.

DeSantis, after asking Mitchell for his biographical details, turned to what has become a customary answer on the campaign trail: If the 2024 election focuses on events from three years ago, Biden will win re-election, but if Republicans instead focus on the future, then they will take back the White House in 2024. But DeSantis’ decision not to answer Mitchell’s question directly generated headlines, and a week later, when Mitchell saw DeSantis was set to attend a Fourth of July parade in Merrimack, he hoped to follow up with the governor. 

“I’ve always been so interested in politics, because I’ve always loved history,” Mitchell said about his interest in viewing presidential campaigns up close. “When I learned this history was being made in my backyard, I knew I wanted to play a part in it and ask these questions.” 

Mitchell said he wanted to re-engage with DeSantis because he felt bad about the way his previous question made news the previous week.

“I actually wanted to apologize to him, too. I wasn’t going up wondering why he was a coward for not answering the question,” Mitchell told NBC News in an interview Friday, adding that he genuinely wanted to hear more from DeSantis and worried that he had caused the governor trouble by drawing national attention to his question.

But at the parade, Mitchell said he was met with hostility from DeSantis representatives, in an encounter first reported by the Daily Beast.

The super PAC supporting DeSantis, Never Back Down, had staffed the governor’s appearance at the march that day, helping to direct the DeSantis family along the route. 

“The first few times I got close to him, I was, like, kind of bodied away by his staffers and I was just like wow,” Mitchell said. “Maybe he has some rogue staffers who are rude.”

Later that afternoon, he managed to meet DeSantis along the rainy parade route, shaking the governor’s hand as he marched by with his family. DeSantis, while keeping up with the parade’s momentum, listened to Mitchell, he said, as he offered the governor an apology for spurring national attention to his question the week before. 

Suddenly, Mitchell said, he felt a pull on the back of his shirt, which NBC News did not capture on camera. He fell behind the governor’s pace deeper into the gaggle of marchers and paradegoers, prompting DeSantis to look back and try to finish his brief conversation with Mitchell from a distance while continuing his march forward. NBC News footage of the encounter shows a man wearing a PAC-branded “DeSantis 2024” hat step between Florida’s first family and Mitchell, gesturing to the sidelines of the march and blocking Mitchell from moving forward as DeSantis kept walking.  

DeSantis made one final comment to Mitchell before the two were no longer within speaking distance. 

“You live in New Hampshire? Come to my next event,” DeSantis said. 

According to Mitchell, DeSantis acknowledged having already met Mitchell when he introduced himself as the person who asked a question in Hollis. 

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/15-year-old-shakes-new-hampshire-tough-questions-ron-desantis-2024-hop-rcna103054

 

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