On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis commenced his 2024 presidential campaign, facing a formidable challenge against the front-runner, Donald Trump. The launch took place on a Twitter forum that experienced embarrassing technical glitches during DeSantis’ speech, despite its significant anticipation.
Fresh from a decisive re-election victory and proudly highlighting his accomplishments in right-wing cultural battles, DeSantis entered the race as a prominent alternative for Republicans aiming to unseat President Biden from the White House.
A highly publicized “Twitter Space” session was scheduled to commence at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, featuring DeSantis launching his campaign alongside Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter.
Instead, hundreds of thousands of users heard long stretches of silence punctuated by Musk commenting, “We’ve got just a massive number people online, so servers are straining somewhat.”
By about 6:30, Twitter launched a new Space and DeSantis declared his candidacy.
“I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” he said.
During the event, DeSantis was questioned about his decision to announce his campaign on Twitter, leading to one of numerous instances throughout the evening where Elon Musk and his social media platform received effusive compliments.
In response, the governor explained that he enjoys going against the norm and mentioned his adaptability in managing Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The interviewer, podcast host David Sacks, inquired about an NAACP travel advisory issued over the weekend, cautioning that the state of Florida is perceived as “openly hostile toward African Americans.”
“Claiming Florida is unsafe is a total farce,” DeSantis said, blasting “legacy media” and again praising Twitter.
As a Republican, Musk enthusiastically concurred that traditional news outlets pale in comparison to his platform. The conversation delved into topics such as media coverage of the pandemic, COVID lockdowns, and grievances regarding government oversight.
DeSantis faced a question regarding his ongoing dispute with Disney, where he accused the company of promoting “gender ideology” and taking advantage of its relaxed relationship with Florida. He argued that the entertainment giant seeks special privileges.
The governor emphasized that Disney World should express gratitude for his efforts in enabling their operations during the pandemic, especially considering that Disneyland in California faced stricter restrictions.
Towards the end of the interview, DeSantis pledged to construct a border wall along the nation’s border with Mexico, mirroring a prominent feature of Trump’s previous two campaigns.
“For me, it is not a campaign slogan where that can get in then forget about it,” he said about dealing with immigration.
DeSantis’ first television appearance as a candidate was scheduled to take place on Fox News following his Twitter talk. That network was fiercely supportive of Trump’s 2020 reelection efforts.
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Now that he has officially entered the race as a candidate, DeSantis aims to recapture the momentum he had at the end of 2022, before Trump asserted his dominance in the quest to regain the front-runner position.
While DeSantis was previously tied with Trump in polls, he has now slipped into a distant second place, though he maintains a significant lead over competitors like former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
Over the past few months, the governor has been actively pushing a staunchly conservative agenda in Florida, rallying the GOP legislature behind his campaign against progressive ideals labeled as “woke.” He has focused on issues such as abortion, vaccines, and LGBTQ rights.
His objective seems to be preventing any GOP primary contenders from positioning themselves to his right, while presenting himself as a younger and more appealing alternative to Trump.
DeSantis has yet to respond to Trump’s aggressive personal attacks. The former president took to his Truth Social platform on Wednesday night to mock DeSantis, making remarks such as “His collar is too big!”
The technical mishap during the campaign launch drew ridicule from President Biden as well, with his account tweeting a donation link accompanied by the message, “This link works.”
DeSantis’ allies emphasize that it is still early in the campaign, and the candidate has ample time to demonstrate his ability to hold his ground against Trump.
At 42 years old, DeSantis grew up in the Tampa Bay area and secured a Republican congressional seat in 2012. Married with two children, he often showcases his family and speaks about how their faith helped his wife, Casey, battle cancer.
The governor has positioned himself as a staunch supporter of Trump, adopting conservative stances throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and swiftly reopening Florida’s economy, heavily reliant on tourism, despite high infection and mortality rates in the state.
After delivering Florida’s votes with a healthy 3% margin for Trump’s unsuccessful re-election bid, DeSantis focused on solidifying his own standing for a second term in Tallahassee and a potential White House run in 2024.
Shortly before DeSantis met with Musk, Trump cynically greeted “Ron DeSanctimonious” to the race, launching a series of insulting rants on Truth Social, once again branding his opponent as “DISLOYAL!!!”