Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s official campaign launch on Wednesday underscored how the battle for the Republican presidential nomination will, to a large extent, be fought online.
DeSantis chose to launch his campaign via Twitter Spaces — a section on the app where you can have real-time audio-only conversations with other users — with Twitter chief Elon Musk and libertarian entrepreneur David Sacks.
The event was marred by technical difficulties. Once it was over, the DeSantis campaign released a video using audio from his conversation that was as heavy on imagery of Musk as it was of the governor — making it almost seem as if the billionaire was his running mate.
Despite hosting his launch, Musk has not officially endorsed DeSantis and is ineligible to run for the presidency due to being born in South Africa. CNN reported Wednesday that the DeSantis campaign had scrapped plans for a traditional launch event in his hometown of Dunedin, a Tampa suburb.
Trump hits back
Former President Donald Trump — who has expanded his lead for a third Republican nomination in national polling despite a litany of legal issues — and his campaign had numerous response videos at the ready. Some were traditional attack ads, but others were more bizarre.
For example, Trump’s social media accounts posted a two-minute parody of DeSantis’s launch that showed the governor trying to announce his candidacy alongside Satan, Adolf Hitler and Democratic megadonor George Soros, among others.
Additionally, Trump posted a video of a rocket launch failing with a “Ron! 2024” graphic over the top of it, a likely allusion to one of Musk’s companies, SpaceX. Another video showed the technical glitches of DeSantis’s event contrasted with Trump walking out to give a speech on a flag-adorned stage.
“I know Ron,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social account. “The way he handled his announcement, he will handle the Country!”
President Biden’s team also took a shot at DeSantis’s glitchy launch, tweeting out a campaign donation page along with the message “This link works.” Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is also running for the GOP nomination, had a similar approach, tweeting out, “Just like my policies, this link works,” with a link to his fundraising page.