Republican Ron DeSantis to launch White House bid with Elon Musk on Twitter

WASHINGTON: Ron DeSantis is to announce his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in a live stream Twitter chat with the platform’s billionaire owner Elon Musk on Wednesday, touting his ultra-conservative record as governor of Florida as a role model for the nation.
DeSantis will be banking on borrowing some of the tech mogul’s star power to eclipse undisputed leader Donald Trump, who swept everything before him at the start of the contest and is voting more than all the other candidates combined.
“I’m going to interview Ron DeSantis and he has quite an announcement to make,” Musk confirmed on Tuesday, promising that the 6:00 p.m. (2200 GMT) event would be impromptu, with “real-time questions and answers.”
“It’s going to be live. Let it rip,” Musk said at the Wall Street Journal’s Council of CEOs conference.
The announcement will be accompanied by a campaign launch video and the start of a three-day retreat in Miami for some of DeSantis’ wealthiest donors, who will be briefed on the campaign before the governor makes a move. in several early voting states next week.
Long considered the most viable challenger to twice-impeached former President Trump, DeSantis is better known than most of the hopefuls in the chasing pack for the Republican nomination — but still lacks the national profile of the frontrunner.
The format gives him a double benefit – giving him valuable access to Musk’s 140 million followers, many of whom are in Trump’s base, and, if he wins the nomination, the attention of a larger group of voters. young and less conservative than he will likely need a shot at the White House.
DeSantis has used his platform as Florida’s chief executive to burnish his conservative credentials, signing some 80 new state laws this spring, many targeting “woke indoctrination” in schools and other public institutions. .
They include a ban on discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in schools, a blocking of funding for diversity promotion efforts at public universities, and one of the most stringent abortion laws. country restrictions.
But the 44-year-old’s official launch comes with a drop in his ratings despite a list of right-wing legislative victories in his state.
A number of political missteps have raised concerns about his willingness to take on Trump, with donors worried he may have peaked too soon.
He faces the daunting task of closing a huge gap in the polls, with Trump posting a lead of nearly 40 percentage points, despite being indicted on felony financial charges and found guilty of sex abuse in a trial. civilian in New York.
But DeSantis enters the campaign with a big cash advantage over his rivals in the pack chasing Trump – a potentially more than $100 million war chest – and buoyed by a strong turnout at a series of campaign events. recent.
Never Back Down, a super PAC that acted as the governor’s de facto campaign arm before his announcement, has a land operation in most of the early candidate states and plans to expand.
Behind the scenes, the Trump and DeSantis camps have been jostling for political approval from state lawmakers while domestically, Florida’s congressional delegation has broken strongly for Trump.
Musk is a well-known admirer of DeSantis, although it was clear Twitter would remain neutral on the nomination and his hosting of the campaign launch should not be taken as an endorsement.
“I’ve said publicly that my preference, and I think the preference of most Americans, is…to have someone fairly normal in power,” he said, without comment. explicit criticism of Trump.
The former president was banned from Twitter following the 2021 assault on the US Capitol by his supporters, and has not returned since being reinstated in November.
He attacked DeSantis almost daily on his record, character and fitness for office, but responded to Wednesday’s announcement with relative restraint — simply posting supportive polls on his own online platform, Truth Social.
“Advertising on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis. That way he doesn’t have to interact with people and the media can’t ask him questions,” a Trump aide said.
The governor has also been criticized for his lack of a personal touch, which Trump supporters say is one of the former president’s greatest assets.
But the former naval officer and congressman has stepped up his efforts more recently to stay behind after speaking engagements to squeeze flesh, sign autographs and have his photo taken with supporters.
“If we make 2024 a referendum on Joe Biden and his failures and deliver a positive alternative for the future of this country, Republicans will win on every level,” DeSantis said during a visit this month. at the Sioux Center, Iowa.


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