Takeaways from DeSantis’ 2024 Twitter campaign announcement

Governor Ron DeSantis’ glitch-stained debut of 2024 on Twitter hijacked his chance to present himself as a serious contender to unseat former President Donald J. Trump.

It was a long-awaited moment for the Florida governor to reset after months of falling in the polls, which made Wednesday’s more than 20 painfully long minutes of Twitter malfunctions all the more disappointing for his supporters.

Despite all the media attention on the Twitter fiasco – The Daily Mail called it “De-Saster”, Fox News called it “a disaster”, Breitbart News called it “DeBacle” – Mr. DeSantis seems to have later found his place on the familiar airwaves of Fox News, a much more traditional — and effective — method of communicating with primary voters. His appearance there was the first time he made a substantive pitch for what a DeSantis presidency would look like.

Still, it was a night his team will be eager to put behind them. And it highlighted both Mr. DeSantis’ potential successes as a candidate, but also a campaign still in the making while under intense attack from a dominant Republican frontrunner.

Here are five takeaways.

The delay was longer than some campaign speeches.

For more than 25 minutes, Twitter weaved its way through what was supposed to be Mr. DeSantis’ big statement on his 2024 candidacy, with long stretches of dead air interrupted by frantic, hot whispers before unplug and start over.

A presidential announcement is the rarest of opportunities. This is when a candidate can draw all the attention to themselves and their vision. Instead, Mr. DeSantis found himself almost as a panelist at his own event, sharing the stage with Elon Musk and his flawed social media site.

Fox News splashed a banner headline at one point on its website that featured a photo of Mr. Musk, not Mr. DeSantis. “Do you really want to see and hear Ron DeSantis?” read an alert to the latest news on the site. “Tune into Fox News.

Even beforehand, the decision to start his Twitter campaign with Mr Musk had drawn mixed reviews. It was innovative, yes – and a chance to reach a potentially huge online audience – but also risky.

The technically disputed result obscured some of Mr. DeSantis’ arguments and deprived him of listeners and potential donors. For a candidate whose promise of skill is a Republican selling point, it was a less than ideal first impression. Both Mr. Trump and President Biden ruthlessly mocked the deployment.

His aides said DeSantis raised $1 million in an hour, a sizable amount but far from the record for a presidential kickoff, with no details provided on how many individual donors made small contributions.

Mr Biden’s campaign was also looking to capitalize, buying Google ads to show Biden’s donation pages to those who searched for terms such as “DeSantis disaster” and “DeSantis flop”.

The DeSantis-Musk discussion on Twitter has occasionally veered into a hyper-online right-wing cul-de-sac.

Here is a taste of the highly ideological and flawed message Mr. DeSantis delivered:

“Some of the issues with the university and the ideological capture – it didn’t happen by accident, you can trace it back to the accreditation cartels. Well guess what? How do I become an accreditor? You must be approved by the US Department of Education. So we’re going to put in place alternative accreditation regimes, where instead of saying, “You’ll only be accredited if you’re doing DEI,” you’ll have an accreditor who will say, “We won’t accredit you if you’re doing the DEI”. want a merit-based colorblind accreditation system.

It’s understood?

Mr. DeSantis has repeatedly emphasized his blue-collar roots. But it’s long been clear that Mr. DeSantis is polling far better among college-educated Republicans than among those without a college degree, who heavily favor Mr. Trump and form the Republican Party’s increasingly rural base. . And his campaign introductory party showed why that is.

The conversation veered off to complaints about horrors from The Atlantic and Vanity Fair magazines and discussions of cryptocurrencies and the “unbanning” of “politically incorrect companies.”

Later, in his interview with Trey Gowdy on Fox News, DeSantis cited acronyms – ESG (environmental, social and governance investing) was just one – without explaining what they meant.

Mr DeSantis made it clear on Wednesday that he was not ready to hit Mr Trump just yet – but he indicated where he would be aiming once he did.

He followed the Twitter Spaces session and two interviews — one on Fox News with Mr. Gowdy, his former congressional colleague, and the other on radio with conservative host Mark Levin — without uttering Mr. Trump’s name. (The word came out of his mouth at one point: “Merit must trump identity politics,” the governor said in the Twitter conversation.)

But his attempts to oppose the nameless were frequent.

Mr. DeSantis told Fox News that the reason Mr. Biden could get away with “scheming” on the southern border was because there was no wall to protect it. Mr. DeSantis has promised to build a “comprehensive” border wall – a rebuke of Mr. Trump’s failure to deliver on that signature promise.

Mr. DeSantis has also planned a line of attack on which he should focus his campaign: Mr. Trump’s staff appointments during his first term.

Mr. DeSantis accused the Federal Reserve – Jerome H. Powell was named Fed Chairman by Mr. Trump – of exacerbating inflation. And he said he would fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, another Trump appointee, on day one. (A senior Trump adviser noted on Twitter that Mr. DeSantis publicly supported Mr. Wray’s selection at the time.)

Mr. DeSantis took his sharpest jab at Mr. Trump in the final moments with Mr. Gowdy, who asked him what he would say to candidates who might not want to debate. It was a clear reference to Mr. Trump, who indicated he might skip one or two early Republican debates. Mr. DeSantis, who needs the debates to have moments of escape, called on people to participate.

“Nobody is entitled to anything in this world, Trey, you have to earn it,” Mr. DeSantis said. “That’s exactly what I intend to do, and I think the debates are a big part of the process.”

Mr. DeSantis previewed his hardline policy to confront the Chinese Communist Party. While Mr. Trump has largely focused on the trade dimension of the relationship during his presidency, Mr. DeSantis has spoken more broadly about countering China’s influence, territorial expansion and military ambitions.

On Fox News, DeSantis called for a 21st century version of the Monroe Doctrine to counter China’s influence in Latin America. The Monroe Doctrine, enunciated by President James Monroe in the early 19th century, warned European countries not to colonize America’s backyard.

DeSantis also said the United States needed to form stronger partnerships with India, Australia and other allies to counter Chinese expansion in the Pacific. And he called for critical manufacturing to be relocated – saying the United States was too closely intertwined, economically, with China.

His remarks indicated that as president, Mr. DeSantis would be more aggressive against China than Mr. Trump was in his first term. Mr. Trump spent the first three years of his presidency mostly averting his gaze from China’s military expansionism and human rights abuses because he wanted a trade deal with Beijing. Mr. DeSantis has signaled that he wants to take on China from the start on all fronts.

Mr. DeSantis laid the groundwork for what his allies say is one of his most significant contrasts with Mr. Trump: his skill in using power effectively.

In his Twitter Spaces live chat, DeSantis spoke about his extensive record of embracing conservative policies as governor of Florida. He cited his knack for using government power for conservative ends. He said he had studied the “various points of leverage under Section 2” of the Constitution and would put that knowledge to good use if elected president. On Fox News, he repeated his intention to use Article 2 to remake the government.

Mr. DeSantis hinted that he would be tougher than Mr. Trump with federal bureaucracy. This is part of one of his main arguments: that not only will he fight harder than Mr. Trump, but that he will bring about radical change where the former president failed.

In his Fox News interview, he described the FBI as one of many federal agencies gone crazy and said he would exert much stronger control over the entire Justice Department.

He dismissed the idea that presidents should view these agencies as independent and said if, as president, he learned that FBI officials were colluding with tech companies — a reference to government officials’ demands to Twitter to remove content deemed harmful – then “everyone involved in this would be fired.


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