Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis launched his 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday with a Twitter announcement. He stepped into a crowded GOP primary contest that tested his strength against former President Donald Trump and criticism that he isn’t prepared for the national stage.
The 44-year-old GOP governor, an outspoken cultural conservative, initially announced his decision in a video posted on social media. However, he planned to discuss it further in a first-of-its-kind conversation with the CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk, on Twitter Spaces. However, during the conversation, the audio stream crashed several times, making it difficult to hear the announcement in real-time.
“We need the courage to lead and the strength to win,” said DeSantis in a minute-long video posted on social media before the conversation with Musk. “I’m Ron DeSantis, and I’m running for president to lead our great American comeback.”
Governor DeSantis is considered to be former President Trump’s strongest GOP rival. Although Trump has a more substantial base and wide-reaching relationships across the party, DeSantis has generated significant interest among GOP primary voters by casting himself as more relatable and electable than the 76-year-old Trump.
A day before the announcement, Musk dubbed the event a historic first for Twitter, saying it would be “the first time something like this happened on social media.” The event was set to begin at 6 p.m. EDT, but 20 minutes passed with users continuing to be kicked off, experiencing other technical issues and hearing microphone feedback.
Later Wednesday, the governor’s office announced that he signed a wide-reaching election law bill that allowed him to run for president without resigning his post as governor, which would exempt him from a state rule known as “resign for run.”
DeSantis continues to face criticism for decisions as governor
Gov. DeSantis continues to face criticism for moves, including sending dozens of immigrants to other states to draw attention to the influx of Latin American immigrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border. He signed and then expanded the Parental Rights in Education bill — known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” Law” which bans classroom discussion and instruction of LGBTQ+ issues in Florida public schools for all grades.
Recently, he signed a law that banned abortions at six weeks and removed an elected prosecutor that vowed they would not charge people under Florida’s new law for providing gender-affirming care or abortions.
The governor also signed legislation this year allowing residents of Florida to carry concealed firearms without a permit. He pushed new measures critics warn could weaken the freedoms of the press. Additionally, he took control of a liberal arts college he maintains was indoctrinating students with leftist ideology.
Governor DeSantis’ highest-profile fight has come against Disney, which has publicly opposed his “Don’t Say Gay” law. In response, the governor took control of Disney World’s governing body. The ongoing dispute has drawn condemnation from business leaders and his GOP rivals, who said his moves are at odds with small-government conservatism.
DeSantis delayed his presidential campaign announcement until after the completion of Florida’s legislative session. However, he has been courting potential primary voters in crucial states for much of the year and using an allied super PAC to amass a massive political organization that already claims a war chest of over $30 million.