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Ron DeSantis will launch his presidential bid with Elon Musk

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will announce he is running for president during a discussion with Twitter CEO Elon Musk, three sources familiar with the plans told NBC News.

Musk and DeSantis will host an event on Twitter Spaces, the site’s platform for audio chats, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. It will be moderated by David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is a confidant of Musk and a supporter of DeSantis.

That same night, the campaign will release a launch video and DeSantis will begin touring several early states after Memorial Day.

The relationship could be a significant boost for DeSantis by giving him an introduction and credibility with Musk’s massive following – including his 140 million Twitter followers. But that could prove a burden if DeSantis gets distracted by the mogul’s many controversial comments.

The launch will closely tie the billionaire tech mogul to one of the Republican Party’s rising stars. Musk has been an admirer of DeSantis, who also regularly berates the corporate media. Last year, Musk said he would support the governor if he ran for president.

The announcement will coincide with a retreat for high-end fundraisers committed to supporting DeSantis in Miami. Bundlers will meet at the Four Seasons Hotel May 24-26, receiving briefings from campaign staff, combined with time to call to raise funds for the campaign.

Team DeSantis has been in talks with Musk for at least the past few weeks, according to a source familiar with the talks. In those conversations, the source said, Musk indicated he doesn’t think former President Donald Trump can win back the White House.

“He’s interested in the future, and he’s interested in winning again,” the person said.

It’s unclear whether Musk will officially endorse DeSantis on Wednesday, but another source said that within DeSantis’ team, his participation is seen as a clear sign of support for the governor.

Still, Musk is nothing if not unpredictable, and on Friday, he tweeted praise from an announcement by Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., one of DeSantis’ rivals for the GOP nomination.

NBC News has not received a response to comments from Musk, Sacks or the DeSantis campaign for this article.

Even if Musk stops short of a full endorsement from DeSantis, aligning with his presidential announcement puts him and the company more directly in a presidential election than any other tech company before it. Twitter, Facebook and others launched polling centers and voter registration efforts, but kept candidates at arm’s length.

And someone of Musk’s stature attending DeSantis’ presidential launch is chipping away at Trump’s inevitability and power.

DeSantis’ relationship with Musk dates back to early 2021, when the two met at a dinner party in Austin, Texas, with about 15 people, including tech investors, developers and industry executives. health, according to a GOP fundraiser who was at the meeting.

The two also have a relationship through Sacks, a major Republican donor who has openly supported DeSantis and is seen as part of Musk’s inner circle on Twitter decisions.

Musk has carved out an intense following after buying Twitter with a promise to return to “free speech” after years of complaints from the right that the site had tried to censor conservatives. Among his first steps, he reinstated the accounts of former far-right Twitter users who had been suspended for spreading misinformation. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who remains one of the most popular figures in conservative media even after being fired by Fox News, is launching a new show on Twitter.

That seems to be part of what makes partnering with Musk appealing to DeSantis. One of the sources familiar with the plans told NBC News that DeSantis aides are watching Twitter become an increasingly friendly space for conservative firebrands under Musk’s leadership, allowing them to speak directly to their conservative audiences and bypass mainstream media – something that was once Trump’s. superpower.

Trump was banned from Twitter after the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising by his supporters on Capitol Hill, and he has yet to return to the site even after Musk reinstated him last fall.

“I expect the campaign to portray a positive vision for the country, and the entire rollout will highlight the future versus the past, success versus failure, victory versus defeat and action. against the floor. That’s part of the race,” a source familiar with the plan said.

The plan is not without risks. Musk’s international star power could serve to eclipse DeSantis, who — while a heavyweight in Republican political circles — isn’t as well-known. And DeSantis may not want to have to answer for all of Musk’s positions — potentially down to individual tweets — like his comments about progressive megadonor George Soros that angered Jewish leaders.

A source familiar with the plans said the DeSantis team isn’t worried about being upstaged, saying the governor is fine not having the spotlight just on himself.

But an added risk for DeSantis is that while Musk has tons of available muscle to put behind DeSantis — and has fans in the former president’s base — Trump has made a political career out of portraying himself as an underdog fighting off political pressures. powerful forces within his party, on the Democratic side of the aisle, and in government and industry. Musk — and by extension, DeSantis — could be touted as the latest corporate titan to line up against Trump’s move.

In the coming weeks, Musk will step down as CEO of Twitter. He recently announced that he has hired Linda Yaccarino, the former head of advertising sales at NBCUniversal, to take over as Twitter’s next CEO. Musk said he would continue to oversee product design and new technologies, while Yaccarino would lead the business side.


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