Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer; Photos: Shutterstock/Getty Images
After months of unofficial campaigning across early-voting states, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally announced on Wednesday that he was running in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. “Well I am running for the president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” he said.
The method DeSantis chose for the big day was a little unorthodox. Instead of appearing onstage in front of supporters in his home state, he made the announcement in an audio stream on Twitter Spaces with its celebrity CEO Elon Musk. Normally, people running for president don’t like to launch their candidacy while someone much more famous than them is in the same room. And if it is a virtual appearance, usually it’s at least a video — or at least an audio stream that is actually functioning. Below are the takeaways from the first night of the official DeSantis campaign.
It’s not a great sign when the first trending topic from your campaign launch is #failuretolaunch. The first several minutes of the conversation on Twitter Spaces between DeSantis, Musk, and moderator-slash-DeSantis-megadonor David Sacks were marred by glitches. Microphone feedback was the first thing Twitter users heard when the stream went live. Then the stream cut out entirely for a few moments. When they came back, Sacks said that the extra volume of listeners was “melting the servers.” Like implosions involving Musk’s other companies, he said this was a “good sign.” Then the stream went out again for several more minutes. For reference, the basic technology for the evening of audio streaming— better known as radio — was invented in 1895.
After the stream came back, Musk said they were reallocating more server space for the call. Then it went out again. After about 24 minutes, they figured it out, hosting the stream on David Sacks’s account instead of Elon Musk’s. If only the CEO had kept around a few more engineers to deal with easily foreseeable problems like server demand when over 200,000 people tried to listen in.
The Florida governor largely stuck to the script of his midterm reelection platform. From his view in Tallahassee, the rest of America is in ruin. The border has “collapsed.” The cities are suffering from “spiking crime.” President Biden “lacks vigor” and “takes his cues from the woke mob.” (He is also a victim of the “woke mind virus.”)
We chose facts over fear,” DeSantis said on Wednesday. “Education over indoctrination. Law and order over rioting and disorder.” If the lines sound familiar, they are from his victory speech in November.
At one point, DeSantis vowed to his audience that if he wins the Republican nomination, he will be taking the White House. “If you nominate me, you can set your clock to January 20, 2025 at high noon because on the west side of the US Capitol, I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th President of the United States, no excuses,” he said. “I will get the job done.”
While that could be an innocuous expression of his confidence in the general election, it’s possible that the line could be a nod to the last presidential contest — when Donald Trump refused his loss and obsessed over proving his false allegations of election fraud. If DeSantis is saying he “will get the job done,” he could be committing to a platform not to back down if he does not win the electoral college.
It was definitely a weird broadcast. There would be a question about eduction for DeSantis, then Musk would butt in talking about how Twitter crashed in January. Republican congressmen like Thomas Massie and operatives like Chris Rufo came on to ask DeSantis softball questions and thanked Musk for purchasing Twitter:
One problem with hosting an event with Elon Musk and one of your biggest donors— aside from the danger of technical issues — is that the questions aren’t going to be that difficult. A very basic and important question for Republican primary voters might be: “Why should I vote for DeSantis over Donald Trump?” But the query wasn’t asked on Thursday night — though they did have enough time for a dogecoin shoutout, a Musk favorite. In fact, the only time the word “Trump” was used was in DeSantis’s stump speech, when he said that “merit must trump identity politics.”