Florida governor Ron DeSantis has officially entered the 2024 Presidential race following his announcement on Wednesday (24 May), stepping into a crowded Republican primary contest that will test his national appeal and the GOP’s willingness to move on from former President, Donald Trump.
The 44-year-old Republican revealed his decision in a Federal Election Commission filing before an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
“We need the courage to lead and the strength to win,” DeSantis said in a minute-long video. “I’m Ron DeSantis, and I’m running for President to lead our great American comeback.”
He tried to discuss his decision further in the online conversation with Musk, although the audio stream crashed repeatedly. The meeting was moderated by Republican donor David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is close to Musk.
The event started off with technical glitches - something which the Twitter owner attributed to “straining” servers because so many people were trying to listen to the audio-only event. A day earlier, Musk had dubbed the event a historic first for Twitter, saying it will be “the first time something like this is happening on social media”.
The event was scheduled to begin at 6pm EDT, but 20 minutes passed with users getting kicked off, hearing microphone feedback and other technical problems.
At one point, more than 300,000 Twitter users were listed as listening to the event, but the number dropped closer to 100,000 as people left because of the technical issues.
“This is a disaster. Not surprising,” tweeted senior Trump adviser Chris LaCivita.
DeSantis is considered to be Trump’s strongest Republican rival, with his run for the Republican nomination coming after the former President announced his intention to run again, despite high profile court cases against the businessman. DeSantis has been a threat to Trump’s candidacy since the US midterm elections, in which his popularity continued to increase with Republican voters.
DeSantis has been touted as an alternative to Trump’s drama-laden political life and has gained support from Republican voters, including those who soured on Trump after the January 6 insurrection. He has already made a shot at the former President as the two prepare to battle for the Republican nomination, saying earlier this month that he believed that politics is not about “building a brand or talking on social media”.
The Florida governor recently hit the headlines for an ongoing feud with entertainment giant Disney, which operates the Disneyworld Resort in Orlando, over the teaching of sexuality and gender identity in US schools. DeSantis championed the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which bans teachers from discussing sexuality or gender identities to kids up to grade three, with Disney vocally denouncing the legislation.
Other hallmarks of his four-year run as Florida governor include widening gun-ownership in the state and introducing restrictions around abortions following the repeal of Roe v Wade in 2022.
DeSantis' reign as governor has led to outcry from campaign groups. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently issued a travel advisory for Florida, calling the atmosphere in the southern state "openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals".
The group's decision followed a similar move by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida. Both groups have issued travel advisories in recent months for their communities due to the DeSantis administration's "hostile" immigration law and anti-LGBT+ measures.