“I don’t know. We’ll have to figure that out,” said Haley, the former United Nations ambassador and only woman in the Republican presidential field.
Then, she added, “I’ve always talked about my high heels. … I’ve always said, ‘Don’t wear them if you can’t run in them.’ So we’ll see if he can run in them.”
The campaign of former president Donald Trump — whose lead over his GOP rivals in polls has grown larger in recent months — has made boot jokes about DeSantis for months, but the discussion about the heeled footwear broke into the mainstream in a big way this week.
Haley’s joke came a day after Politico Magazine published an analysis in which three experts in bootmaking and shoemaking explained why they believed there was truth to the idea of DeSantis boosting his height with footwear.
“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” also referenced Politico’s analysis in its opening monologue Wednesday night.
“The scandal is that DeSantis isn’t wearing the boots for fashion,” Colbert said. “America’s top cobblers believe that inside his boots DeSantis is probably wearing height-boosting insoles.”
“This is no time for foot fetishes,” DeSantis said Thursday night during an appearance on Newsmax, the conservative television network. “We’ve got serious problems as a country,” DeSantis told Newsmax host Eric Bolling, before announcing a challenge to the front-runner. “I know Donald Trump and a lot of his people are focusing on things like footwear,” DeSantis said and added that if Trump “can summon” the courage to attend the next debate, “I’ll wear a boot on my head.”
Trump has declined to attend the first two Republican presidential debate and is not expected to attend the third in Miami on Nov. 8.
WATCH — DeSantis questions whether Trump can “summon the balls” to show up and debate; laughs off Team Trump’s weird interest in men’s feet.
“This is no time for foot fetishes. We’ve got serious problems as a country.” pic.twitter.com/KTI4tSHctr
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) November 3, 2023
A July Washington Post profile of DeSantis’s wife, Casey, noted she selected the governor’s footwear: “She knew the cowboy boots he should wear, even though, at first, he complained that they hurt his feet, until a staffer suggested he buy dress shoes instead, at which point he said, ‘Casey got them for me,’ and that was the end of the conversation about the cowboy boots,” the profile reads.
But it was DeSantis’s appearance in late September on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” that kicked the attention on the presidential candidate’s footwear into high gear. DeSantis wore a dark blue suit and cowboy boots and was seated for an amicable conversation with the host, who briefly mentioned his footwear.
Though Maher acknowledged that “People do wear cowboy boots with a suit,” the host added, “But there were no cowboys in Florida, Ron.” The governor smiled and said, “We’re one of the top cattle states in America” and that in “the interior of Florida, nothing but cattle ranches.”
“Oh,” Maher said. “All right. Well, I stand corrected.”
That appearance made its way around social media with one TikTok clip of DeSantis seated on the show behind text that read, “Tell me he’s not wearing hidden heels.” The nine-second video posted on Oct. 4 had more than 14 million views and 1.2 million likes as of Thursday evening.
During an interview on the PBD Podcast last week, DeSantis was asked about the widely seen TikTok video about his footwear. “This on TikTok went viral,” said the host, Patrick Bet-David. “This thing got 1.2 million likes. And some people are wondering —”
DeSantis interrupted to say he was unaware of what the host was talking about. “What are they? I don’t even und — I haven’t seen that,” he said.
“They have not shown this to you? Okay,” Bet-David said. “What they’re trying to say with this is that in your boots, you have heels.”
“No, no no,” DeSantis replied. “Those are just standard, off-the-rack” boots.
Delving further into the issue, the host then asked the governor for his height.
“Five-11,” DeSantis said.
“Okay. Why don’t you wear tennis shoes and dress shoes?” Bet-David asked. DeSantis replied that he does — when he works out.
Speaking at a rally in Houston on Thursday, Trump mentioned the boots as he recalled DeSantis asking for his endorsement in his gubernatorial race: “Tears in his eyes, nobody would even believe it,” Trump said. “I don’t know if he was wearing those same boots. I didn’t notice that. I don’t care, either. That I don’t care about.”
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.