The official launch of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign on Wednesday demonstrated how the fight for the Republican presidential nomination will be fought, in large part, online.
With Twitter CEO Elon Musk and libertarian entrepreneur David Sacks, DeSantis decided to launch his campaign through Twitter Spaces, a section of the app where users can engage in real-time audio-only conversations.
Technical issues made the event disappointing. As soon as it was over, the DeSantis campaign used the audio from their conversation to release a video that featured almost as many images of Musk as it did of the governor, giving the impression that the businessman was his running mate.
Musk hosted DeSantis’ launch, but he hasn’t formally endorsed him and is ineligible to run for president because he was born in South Africa. The DeSantis campaign reportedly abandoned plans for a customary launch event in his Dunedin, a suburb of Tampa, hometown on Wednesday, according to CNN.
Trump hits back
Former President Donald Trump and his campaign were prepared with a number of response videos. Despite a long list of legal issues, Trump has increased his lead for a third Republican nomination in national polling. Some were your standard attack ads, while others were weirder.
For instance, a two-minute parody of DeSantis’s announcement appeared on Trump’s social media pages and featured the governor attempting to announce his candidacy alongside Satan, Adolf Hitler, Democratic megadonor George Soros, and others.
Trump also shared a video of a rocket launch that failed with the graphic “Ron! 2024” over it, probably alluding to one of Musk’s businesses, SpaceX. Another video contrasted the DeSantis event’s technical difficulties with Trump emerging to deliver a speech on a stage draped in flags.
Trump posted on his Truth Social profile, “I know Ron. “He will handle the country the same way he handled his announcement!”
The campaign team for President Biden responded to DeSantis’ bungled launch by tweeting a link to the campaign’s donation page with the message, “This link works.” Asa Hutchinson, a former governor of Arkansas who is vying for the GOP nomination, took a similar tack by tweeting, “Just like my policies, this link works,” along with a link to his fundraising page.
For his part, DeSantis avoided specifically criticizing Trump.