Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially jumped into the race for the presidency in 2024.
He made the announcement on Twitter Spaces, a feature that allows live audio conversations, with the platform’s CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday evening.
Twitter servers crashed repeatedly as over 400,000 listeners joined in, stopping Musk and moderator David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur and DeSantis backer who donated more than $70,000 to his campaign in 2021, from completing a sentence.
After more than 25 minutes of technical difficulties, DeSantis finally spoke.
“I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” he said.
“We know our country is going in the wrong direction. We see it with our eyes, and we feel it in our bones,” he said.
He listed the crisis at the southern border, a spike in crime, and President Joe Biden’s lack of “vigor” as the reasons he sees America as in decline.
“I don’t think it has to be this way. American decline is not inevitable. It is a choice. and we should choose a new direction, a path that will lead to American revitalization. We must restore sanity to our nation,” he said.
DeSantis also posted a campaign announcement video on Twitter, with the caption, “I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback.”
“We need the courage to lead and the strength to win,” DeSantis says in the clip which highlights his legislative wins.
“We chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination, law and order over rioting and disorder. We held the line when freedom hung in the balance,” he said.
I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback. pic.twitter.com/YmkWkLaVDg— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) May 24, 2023
After DeSantis’ short address, Sacks, the moderator, asked what made him run for president on the live feed. DeSantis pointed to the strict policies imposed during the pandemic as the reason behind his decision.
“I had to look out for the people I represented for protecting their jobs over trying to safeguard my own political high but it was very, very lonely in a lot of those decisions. And part of the reason it was so lonely is because there was a concerted effort to try to stifle dissent,” he said.
He answered other questions about the overreach of government agencies like the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “hoax” of book banning, the legacy media’s bias towards him, and the border crisis, which he promises to declare as a national emergency on Day 1.
DeSantis also said Twitter is a platform that exposes people to different viewpoints, “And I think the elites in our society have tried to cluster themselves to where their assumptions are never challenged.”
The 44-year-old filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for president prior to the social media event on Wednesday.
The same day, he signed a Florida elections bill that adds clarification to the state’s resign-to-run law, allowing him to stay in office while running for president in 2024.
DeSantis has garnered popularity among Republicans after pursuing a legal battle with Disney and standing up to the college board, as the Deseret News reported.
When asked on the live feed why the fight with Disney is important, DeSantis said it was because the state “stands for the protection of children.”
“Disney obviously supported injecting gender ideology in elementary school. They did oppose our parents rights legislation,” he said, adding that the company was exempt from certain municipal laws and received tax breaks.
“So, you have this setup that Disney engineered many decades ago, where they actually had their own government that they controlled with no accountability. ... Florida basically put them on a pedestal many decades ago and joined the state with this one company at the hip.”
DeSantis has also worked with the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature to notch several conservative policy wins, including restrictions on abortion and teen gender transitions, and blocking state investments based on environmental, social and governance standards.
DeSantis’ super PAC, Never Back Down, has taken on the role of campaigning for the governor. The organization will add roughly $200 million to his war chest, as first reported by The New York Times.
Half of the funds will be allocated for DeSantis’ GOP primary election campaign, with a plan to secure TV ads and hire at least 2,600 field organizers by September — creating a large and well-funded campaign.
“No one has ever contemplated the scale of this organization or operation, let alone done it,” Chris Jankowski, the executive director of the PAC, told the Times. “This has just never even been dreamed up.”
DeSantis is former President Donald Trump’s key opponent but he has trailed Trump in nearly every poll in recent months.
The Trump campaign began taking jabs at DeSantis early on. In April, when DeSantis was on an international tour, Trump’s super PAC, MAGA Inc., bought a new TV spot, criticizing the governor for even considering a bid, according to NBC News.
The narration in the ad says that Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis in 2018 helped him secure the position of governor. It stitched in DeSantis saying, “I’d like to thank our president for standing by me when it wasn’t necessary.”
He was reelected as governor last year. Prior to his governorship, DeSantis, who studied at Yale University and Harvard Law School, served for 15 years in the U.S. Navy and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, and stayed until he left to run for governor in 2018.
Though Trump has given him a nickname — ”DeSanctimonious” — that he frequently uses in his Truth Social posts attacking DeSantis, the governor hasn’t taken any direct shots at the former president.
As The Conversation noted, there isn’t much setting the two of them apart on policy — they both embrace installing hardline immigration laws, appointing conservative judges and halting aid to Ukraine.
Where Trump is “anti-establishment,” DeSantis is “anti-woke.” But the Florida governor has made efforts to differentiate himself from Trump. In an interview in March, he said his way of running the government would be drama free and said he would like to be called a winner.