Es was to be an unconventional start to his campaign. It became one too. Although not in the way Ron DeSantis would have imagined the official announcement of his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Twitter.
For almost half an hour, Elon Musk’s people struggled with technical difficulties on the Spaces audio platform. The attempt to transmit broke off again and again. “We just have a massive number of people who are online, so the servers are a bit overloaded,” said the Twitter owner, who is now openly speaking out for the Republicans with a view to the 2024 presidential election, contritely. In the meantime, 650,000 users had dialed in.
The Florida governor was belatedly able to get his message across: “I’m running for president to lead our great American comeback,” he said. The country is moving in the wrong direction. And: “We must end the loser culture that has infected the Republican Party in recent years.” That was aimed at Donald Trump, who still does not admit his election defeat in 2020. But DeSantis’ indirect attack on his former sponsor seemed involuntarily funny given the glitch. His campaign team tried to make the best of it: the interest of the people is an expression of the great enthusiasm, the campaign said. Did DeSantis see the risk coming? As a failsafe, he shared a short video that said: “We need the courage to lead and the strength to win.”
The “woke mob”, but no word on Trump
Trump was not directly mentioned by DeSantis during the hour-long conversation. Instead, the 44-year-old governor attacked President Joe Biden, who had let himself be taken in by the “woken mob”. And as expected, he presented his state, which he likes to call the “Citadel of Liberty,” as a blueprint for America. Biden is allowing masses of illegal migrants to cross the border. He also handed the country over to the cartels that smuggled drugs. He will stop that. In general, he would correct the policies of the Democrats, let financial and economic reason prevail again, stop the social democratic spending policy, fight left-wing ideologies in schools, rely on “law and order” – and oblige the state to fulfill its constitutional tasks again. In Florida he showed that he could “deliver”.
It was not by chance that DeSantis was chosen as the platform for the campaign launch. Musk’s takeover of the online service was an expression of his fight for freedom of expression. For his part, the flashy multi-billionaire, who is also the founder of electric car maker Tesla and space company SpaceX, said he became aware of DeSantis through its Covid policy. He kept his state open when the rest of the country went into lockdown. DeSantis gladly took the praise. He just didn’t march with the crowd – and opposed Washington. This was also aimed at Trump, who was still in the White House during the first phase of the pandemic.
It all comes down to the Trump base
It was no coincidence that DeSantis refrained from direct attacks on Trump. If he wants to secure his party’s presidential candidacy, he must at least win over parts of the Trump base. In polls, the former president is clearly ahead again after a temporary low after the congressional elections last year. But DeSantis is the runner-up in the race. All other applicants are far behind. And all experience teaches: everything is still possible.
From DeSantis’ point of view, the launch of the campaign should actually dispel the impression that he has lost momentum after his successful re-election as governor last November. The technical glitches shouldn’t help to restore his old winning image. Trump also showered his rival with malice: “Wow!” The Twitter launch of “DeSanctus”, as he has been calling it derogatory for some time, was a “disaster”, he wrote on his own platform Truth Social. His whole campaign will be like that. Biden’s campaign team also used the blunder: On Twitter, they posted a call for donations with the ironic line: “This link works”.
When it comes to freedom of speech, the new campaign format that DeSantis and Musk wanted to use to show mainstream media “gatekeepers” what a rake is, of course, still has room for improvement. The questioners – apart from one woman, they were all men – understood their role more as claqueurs. There were no critical objections. DeSantis always thanked politely for the templates and then explained above all his campaign against the woke establishment, to which he also counts the large corporations. He extensively defended his fight against entertainment giant Disney, one of the state’s largest employers, for daring to oppose the legal ban on teaching LGBTQ issues in elementary schools.
DeSantis liked the criticism-free forum so much that at the end he suggested repeating the format in the near future. Musk himself added that all other applicants were also invited. The candidate’s formal application also went smoothly: Shortly before the Twitter event, DeSantis had registered his candidacy with the responsible office. The necessary forms were available on the website of the federal electoral authority FEC.