Despite Glitchy Start, DeSantis' Twitter Spaces Launch Showed Why He's A Contender
The Ron DeSantis 2024 presidential campaign got off to a terrible start on Wednesday night, as Twitter glitched under the weight of traffic (though admittedly once Musk transitioned the hosting role from his 140mm follower account to David Sacks's account, the discussion was flawless and fascinating.)
Slated to start at 6pm ET, what promised to be an edgy, modern launch -- using Twitter's interactive, live-audio "Spaces" feature - quickly turned into a painstaking embarrassment for both DeSantis and his host, Twitter owner Elon Musk.
Over a half-hour span, users were booted off the chat and others had to endure feedback noise and hot-mic whispering until the event finally got underway around 6:30, when DeSantis declared, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”
The Twitter audience wasn't the only one that was kept waiting, according to The New York Times:
The DeSantis campaign had invited prominent donors to Miami on Wednesday for a fund-raising event, hosting them at a conference space at the Four Seasons as the Twitter discussion was projected onto a large screen. Then they waited. And waited.
Trying to make lemonade out of lemons, the DeSantis campaign tweeted, "It seems we broke the internet with so much excitement. While you’re waiting, donate NOW.”
Social media naturally had a field day, with the hashtag #DeSaster trending on Twitter well into the night.
Failure to Launch Crashed #DeSaster pic.twitter.com/DYDGkM3NNB— David Wolf (@DavidWolf777) May 24, 2023
To fix the foul-up, the event was moved from Musk's Twitter account to that of tech investor and Musk associate David Sacks.
There's “just a massive number of people online, so the servers are straining somewhat,” said Musk during the early minutes.
"My account was breaking the system," he said later.
I’m sure Presidential candidates are running over to Twitter Spaces right now after seeing the #DeSaster that just happened pic.twitter.com/CRVDF40VDX— Wu Tang is for the Children (@WUTangKids) May 25, 2023
While the audience initially slowed in terms of constant traffic, Musk retweeted a note showing that over 3 million people tuned in at some point to the discussion.
“Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate!” said Steven Cheung, a spokesman for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. The Biden campaign also tried to exploit the fiasco, tweeting "this link works" and pointing users to the Biden-Harris donation page.
Who did this? 😂🤣💀#DeSaster pic.twitter.com/Klpc3aIvJM— 𝙶𝚎𝚖™💎🏳️🌈🇲🇽🇺🇸 (@Lady_Star_Gem) May 25, 2023
The Trump meme-team was on fire...
Trump just posted this video making fun of DeSantis. I have to admit, I couldn't stop laughing😂— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) May 25, 2023
Trump spaces soon? pic.twitter.com/xDsWMTUBI3
Putting a favorable spin on things, Sacks said, “We started with some technical issues because of the sheer scale and unprecedented nature of what we were doing. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and I think this finished really strong.”
Musk had an alternative view also...
I call it “massive attention”— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 25, 2023
Top story on Earth today
🤣— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 25, 2023
In his remarks, DeSantis didn't say Trump's name, but did draw contrasts indirectly, such as when he said, "We must look forward, not backwards.” In the three most recent national GOP primary polls -- from Fox News, Quinnipiac and CNN -- Trump leads DeSantis by margins of 33%, 31% and 27% respectively.
Interesting— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 25, 2023
It's early, though, and DeSantis has a large campaign coffer, and had a very fruitful swing through Iowa earlier this month, racking up the endorsements of more than three dozen Republican state legislators -- which is more than a third of the total in the state. His endorsement tally there is already more than triple the highest count for any 2016 contender. Then again, the 2016 Iowa endorsement leader was Ted Cruz, and we know how things turned out for him.
Mockery aside, DeSantis performance was strong as he laid out the reasons why he can win the Republican presidential nomination over Donald Trump because he’s broadly acceptable to Republicans, adding that he will then beat Joe Biden in the general election because he has the proven strength to appeal to independents.
“We are acceptable to the broad swath. It’s not like I’m taking policy positions that are alienating massive segments of Republicans. And so people are going to see somebody who’s got a proven record of success, who’s representing the values that the vast, vast majority of our party professes to hold.”
“I won 97 percent of Republicans in my reelection,” DeSantis said in a phone-in press conference with select news organizations, including The Epoch Times, on May 24, a few hours after declaring his candidacy on Twitter.
As Dan Berger writes at The Epoch Times, DeSantis made it clear that winning independents is essential, he said. He pointed to the examples of Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Iowa’s Kim Reynolds in their gubernatorial reelections.
“I think that there’s millions of people that want to move on from Biden. I think they’re ripe for us to be able to get,” DeSantis said.
“But I think you have got to have a vehicle that they’re comfortable with. And I think we’ve shown in Florida that we’re able to win voters who don’t always vote Republican. You know, you can’t win 60-40 with only Republicans.”
The GOP had a 2 percent edge in voter registration over Democrats going into the election in Florida, he said.
He said the party would need to be aggressive, including using ballot harvesting in states where it’s legal, such as Nevada, Pennsylvania, and possibly Wisconsin, which may legalize it once more. “We banned all that in Florida, but I don’t think you can say, ‘Don’t play the way they’re playing.'”
He acknowledged Trump’s high poll numbers.
“I would be shocked if the former president wasn’t leading. He had a hundred percent name ID, one of the most famous people in the world, and had been president of the United States,” DeSantis said.
But he said most Republicans haven’t yet focused on the race. And he noted that polls could be wrong, such as those that failed to predict his recent reelection victory by nearly 20 percentage points.
“We’re going into the race with more local endorsements in the early states than any candidate has ever had with even being an announced candidate,” he said, pointing to almost 200 endorsements he’d received from state legislators in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Florida, including most of those state’s Republican legislative leaders.
“We feel really good about that.”
Responding to another question, DeSantis contrasted his positions with those of Trump by noting particular issues where Trump has attacked him.
DeSantis said he voted against a Trump-backed bill to declare amnesty for 2 million illegal immigrants in return for “a pittance” in gains against illegal immigration.
“I oppose amnesty. That was supposed to be America First policy to oppose amnesty, and yet he endorsed and tried to ram through an amnesty.”
DeSantis said he voted against an omnibus spending bill that Trump signed. “Absolutely, I think he should not have signed those spending bills. He added almost 8 trillion dollars to the debt in a four-year period. I’m happy to be on the conservative side of that debate, because I think our debts have gone up way too much.”
And on one of Trump’s signature issues, building a border wall, DeSantis told The Epoch Times that he’d “make it a day one priority. I will use all the levers available to me to push that through.”
He reiterated how, after Hurricane Ian, he had the state takeover repair of two damaged island bridges predicted to take six months to fix. “We got one done in three days and the other done in two (more) weeks.”
“I can tell you that it was not anything anybody expected. And so it’s cutting through red tape. It’s telling people not to make excuses. And just getting the job done. You just have to be disciplined.”
Addressing the debt ceiling impasse, the governor said the problem is outcome of poor government policy during the COVID pandemic, including lockdowns and flushing “trillions of dollars down the drain.”
Finally, DeSantis made it clear he is a crypto (freedom) advocate.
“As president, we’ll protect the ability to do things like Bitcoin,” said DeSantis. He added “there’s risks involved with it,” but the people interested in the cryptocurrency “are sophisticated” and “can make decisions.”
“You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it, is because they don’t control it.”
DeSantis called those on Capitol Hill “central planners” who “want to have control over society.”
"Bitcoin represents a threat to them, so they’re trying to regulate it out of existence,” he said.
Of course, all that policy prognostication was lost to the mainstream media who focused almost 100% on the glitches and not the substance.
And the mainstream media refuse to get the joke...
I think it's odd but telling when CNN admits that the only way they can get anyone to watch their network - the only time they can boast of ratings - is when they have Trump on.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 25, 2023
It explains a lot about much media behavior. https://t.co/kciWhTJ3O3