Ron DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign started not with a bang, but with a whimper on Wednesday night, after the Florida governor’s launch party with billionaire Elon Musk was marred by technical glitches.
DeSantis and Musk’s campaign extensively promoted a live Twitter launch event on Wednesday night using the social media platform’s podcast feature, Twitter Spaces. This event started about half an hour late, after Musk repeatedly botched his attempts to initiate the conversation.
More than half a million Twitter users who tuned in to the broadcast at 6 p.m. local time heard long periods of silence, punctuated by Musk saying, “The servers are getting a little nervous,” and “I think we’re back online?”
Finally, Musk and his co-host, David Sachs, founding COO of Paypal, successfully went live by congratulating DeSantis for “breaking the internet.”
DeSantis then began a shortened version of his speech, telling listeners: “I am running for President of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”
The conversation continued with a question-and-answer session, punctuated by periodic interruptions in the audio broadcast.
It was an inauspicious start for the Republican governor, who has fallen in opinion polls and has faced growing skepticism from wealthy donors who question his approach to social issues such as abortion. It was an equally big setback for Musk, who describes himself as a supporter of free speech and the CEO of Tesla who bought Twitter for $44 billion last year.
However, DeSantis complimented Musk: “You should have put your money where its mouth is, because I think you’ve realized that you can’t have a free society unless we have the freedom to discuss the most important issues affecting our civilization.”
He added, “I think what was done on Twitter is really important for the future of our country.” “We can’t have a society in which the government colludes with major technology platforms to impose orthodoxy.”
DeSantis allies said launching his campaign on Twitter underscores the governor’s unorthodox approach and willingness to break with the status quo.
Some fellow Republicans are questioning DeSantis’ leadership, including his spat with Disney over the so-called “Don’t Say Like Me” bill. The media company sued the governor and his administration.
DeSantis defended his approach to Disney in a broadcast Wednesday on Twitter, saying, “I think some of these Republicans who are on Disney’s side, they’re basically projecting themselves as corporations . . . obviously we’re going to defend our actions because we think we have Right to do what we did.”
Brian Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, said on Twitter after the event: “There was so much excitement at Governor DeSantis seeing our Great American comeback that he hacked the internet. Washington is next. Raised a million dollars online in one hour…and counting!”
Earlier Wednesday, DeSantis filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to officially launch his campaign, ending months of speculation about when he will formally file his bid to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
DeSantis also posted a one-minute video to social media, centering on the governor standing alone in front of an American flag as an orchestral soundtrack swells.
“Rejection is a choice. Success is possible. Freedom is worth fighting for,” DeSantis says in the ad. “I am Ron DeSantis, and I am running for president to lead America’s Great Return.”
Trump remains the undisputed frontrunner in an increasingly crowded field of Republicans vying for the party’s nomination in 2024. The latest Real Clear Politics polling average shows the former president has the support of more than half of Republican voters, followed by DeSantis, Just. more than 20 percent.
Other candidates and potential nominees, including former Trump Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Senator Tim Scott, are leading in the single digits.
The Trump campaign pulled no punches in attacking DeSantis’ firing, issuing a statement on Wednesday: “Glitchy. Technical issues. Uncomfortable silence. Complete failure to launch. And this is the only candidate! “
Trump wasn’t the only DeSantis opponent to attack the governor over his firing. President Joe Biden digs into DeSantis on Twitter Wednesday night while his social media feed was faltering.
“This link works,” Biden tweeted, directing people to donate to his 2024 re-election bid.