Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially launched his battle with Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination — and he was supposed to announce it live on Twitter, but repeated crashes delayed the announcement by nearly half an hour.
On Wednesday, the conservative politician announced the long-expected news on Elon Musk’s Twitter, joining the billionaire on a live audio stream.
“Well, I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback,” DeSantis said in the Twitter Spaces live audio chat. “We know our country is going in the wrong direction… American decline is not inevitable, it is a choice.”
The original Twitter Spaces session on Musk’s account had more than 660,00 listeners at one point — and the session crashed multiple times. The DeSantis session relaunched on the Twitter Spaces session hosted by moderator David Sacks, a Republican donor. “The servers are straining somewhat,” Musk could be overheard saying.
DeSantis also posted a campaign video on Twitter just prior to the discussion with Musk which he captioned, “I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback.” Earlier in the day, he had filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy.
DeSantis, 44, has gained national prominence for pursuing an “anti-woke” agenda as governor of the Sunshine State. That has included his very public fight with Disney, ignited by the media conglomerate’s opposition to Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law.
In using Twitter for the announcement — eschewing a more conventional televised press conference — DeSantis, who has 1.8 million followers on the platform, is mimicking Trump in fully embracing social media as a primary communications channel. Trump garnered a massive Twitter base leading up to and during his occupation of the White House, before he was banned in 2021 over his encouragement of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attackers. Last fall Musk reinstated Trump’s Twitter account, but the ex-president hasn’t resumed tweeting. Trump’s preferred platform is Truth Social, the Twitter-copycat app his company launched last year, where he regularly takes potshots at DeSantis (including calling the governor a “deep state puppet” and “Ron DeSanctimonious”).
Musk professes to have centrist political views, but he has shared right-wing conspiracy theories on Twitter, including a now-deleted tweet linking to a baseless homophobic conspiracy theory about the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The mega-billionaire, who also is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, affirmed in November he would support DeSantis in the 2024 election. Last summer, Musk opined that DeSantis would “easily win” a general election against President Biden.
For Twitter, DeSantis’ decision to use the platform to formally launch his bid for the GOP presidential nomination is a feather in the struggling company’s cap, of sorts. Musk, who acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal last October (but now values the company at $20 billion), has claimed that the internet platform is faster and more accurate in disseminating news than traditional media outlets.
“As Twitter pursues the goal of elevating citizen journalism, media elite will try everything to stop that from happening,” Musk tweeted in November. “Mainstream media will still thrive, but increased competition from citizens will cause them to be more accurate, as their oligopoly on information is disrupted.”
Ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently announced plans to relaunch his show on Twitter, setting up a legal fight with Fox Corp.; Musk said Twitter does not have a deal of “any kind whatsoever” with Carlson.
Meanwhile, Musk has hired Linda Yaccarino, previously NBCUniversal’s top ad sales exec, as CEO starting in the next month. She’ll oversee business operations, including trying to rebuild Twitter’s ad revenue, while Musk says he will serve as CTO. Musk has decimated Twitter’s workforce in an attempt to cut costs, slashing headcount by 80% to about 1,500 staffers, and he said last week the company will likely try to rehire some of them at this point.
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