By Tim Reid
(Reuters) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis entered the battle for the 2024 presidential election during a chaotic, glitch-filled online forum on Twitter hosted by its billionaire owner, Elon Musk.
Here are three takeaways from the DeSantis announcement:
TWITTER CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR CAMPAIGN’S HEALTH
DeSantis’ decision to announce his White House bid during a live event with Musk on Twitter was a first.
It might also be a last.
For nearly 25 minutes, the audio-only feed failed time and again, overshadowing DeSantis’ big announcement and undermining his attempt to start gaining ground on Donald Trump, his main rival for the Republican Party’s nomination for president.
It elicited a one word tweet from the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jnr: #DeSaster.
The choice of Twitter and Musk as a platform to declare his candidacy appeared to be part of a campaign strategy to largely ignore traditional media outlets and instead court supporters through newer, online social media platforms seen as friendly to conservatives.
DeSantis is also seeking to garner support among Musk’s 140 million followers on the platform. Many are fans of Musk since he bought Twitter last year, because he has reinstated the accounts and promoted the views of many conservative users who had been banned from the platform.
Unfortunately, many of them were also unable to hear what DeSantis had to say.
The glitches perhaps provided an early campaign lesson for DeSantis: don’t hold a major event that you do not control.
STILL NOT MENTIONING TRUMP BY NAME
For months, DeSantis has been on the receiving end of a relentless barrage of attacks by Trump. Many have been wondering when DeSantis will push back and return fire.
Yet again, however, DeSantis declined to mention Trump by name during his Twitter event and an announcement of his White House campaign earlier on Wednesday.
He only leveled two oblique critiques of Trump when he said “governing is not entertainment, not about building a brand,” and when he decried Republicans’ poor record in recent national elections.
While president, Trump lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, then the Senate and the White House.
Trump’s backing of extremist candidates was also blamed for contributing to a weaker-than-expected Republican performance in midterm elections last November.
DeSantis’ entrance into the race still has not answered the question of whether or when he will take on Trump directly.
NO NATIONAL VISION
Like he has done in appearances across the United States in recent months, DeSantis on Wednesday focused on his record as Florida’s governor.
But he said little about what he would do for all Americans if he became president.
Instead, he largely double downed on his usual targets, including the “woke” Left, the mainstream media, financial and medical elites, illegal immigrants, and Democratic President Joe Biden.
Those attacks could play well with a Republican primary electorate, but he did not provide specifics on how he would govern.
He spoke in more general terms: “We can and we must deliver big results for America. I pledge to be an energetic executive that will take on the important issues,” he said.
(Reporting by Tim Reid in Los Angeles; Editing by Kieran Murray and Michael Perry)