Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event spotlighting his newly released book, “The Courage To Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint For America’s Revival,” at the Orange County Choppers Road House & Museum on March 08, 2023 in Pinellas Park. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Gov. Ron DeSantis was supposed to announce his candidacy for president on so-called “Twitter Spaces” at 6 p.m., with Elon Musk.
That didn’t happen, at least right away, as thousands of people attempted to tune into the audio-only conversation about DeSantis’ presidential run. And moderator David Sacks admitted that the large digital audience was “melting the servers.”
The glitches finally ended at about 6:25 p.m. Eastern time. That’s when DeSantis came on and gave a lengthy speech to announce that he was officially running for the president of the United States.
“If you nominate me, you can set your clock to January 20, 2025 at high noon, because on the west side of the U.S. Capitol I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th president of the United States,” DeSantis said at the conclusion of his opening announcement. “No excuses. I will get the job done.”
Once the Twitter discussion began, DeSantis took friendly questions from Sacks and notably softball queries from selected guests.
Those included Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie, Stanford professor of medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, conservative talk-show radio host Dana Loesch –who told DeSantis that “you’ve got my vote in the primary,” — and Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo, who has pushed back on critical race theory and is a trustee of New College of Florida in Sarasota, where the new and conservative administration is overhauling the campus.
DeSantis spoke extensively about how he handled the pandemic, which remains one of his signature calling cards in opening up schools and businesses in Florida, though COVID-19 was still killing residents. DeSantis also closed schools early on in the pandemic.
Sacks first question to the governor was about the recent NAACP’s travel advisory, which said that Florida is no longer a safe space for Blacks “and other communities of color.”
DeSantis called the claim a “total farce” and a “political stunt” by a “left-wing group…colluding with legacy media to manufacture a narrative.”
DeSantis repeated familiar responses on questions such as his feud with Disney and the removal of books in Florida, which he again maintained was “a hoax.” (Just recently, PEN America and others have filed a lawsuit in a federal court on book bans in Escambia County School District in Florida’s Panhandle.)
And DeSantis did seem to take a shot at former President Donald Trump, when he was asked by one of the panelists enlisted to ask a question about how would follow through on his state agenda, “when others tweeted about it, and talked about it, but then couldn’t actually follow through.”
“Even my worst critics in Florida will acknowledge that when I tell people I’m going to do something, I don’t make promises or say I’m going to do something lightly,” DeSantis replied. “I thought it through, and I know that I am going to follow through in what I tell people what I’m going to do, so this is one: There will be follow-through. Number two, I understand the different leverage points that you would have under Article II of the Constitution. I studied that a lot about being governor about Florida’s Constitution. Doing the same thing for the federal constitution and you gotta know how to use your leverage to advance what you’re trying to accomplish.”
The conversation later devolved into discussing topics such as Bitcoin.
At the end of the conversation, DeSantis sounded energized despite the initial hiccups. “We should do it again,” he said.
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” said Sacks.
“It’s going to be imperfect because it’s not scripted,” added Musk. However, the event appeared to be scripted, in part because of the various supporters chiming in to agree with DeSantis on various topics.
Plenty of critics pounced on the erratic conversation on Twitter, including President Joe Biden, who tweeted a link to a fundraising page on his own campaign site, saying “this link works.
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