Florida Governor Ron DeSantis launched his presidential campaign for 2024 on Wednesday. However, his announcement on Twitter faced technical issues and failed to counter criticism that he may not be prepared to challenge former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis expressed confidence in his campaign, but the decision to announce it through an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk backfired. The audio stream repeatedly crashed, making it difficult for most users to hear the new presidential candidate in real-time.
In his announcement, DeSantis highlighted his conservative accomplishments and called for American revitalization. However, critics from both parties found delight in the rocky start of his campaign.
I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback. pic.twitter.com/YmkWkLaVDg
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) May 24, 2023
DeSantis has experienced an extraordinary rise in politics, from a relatively unknown congressman to a two-term governor, and now a prominent figure in national debates on divisive issues such as race, gender, and abortion.
However, DeSantis faces challenges in his path to securing the Republican presidential nomination. He currently trails behind Trump in early polls and faces doubts about his far-right policies, campaign persona, and limited relationships within the Republican ecosystem. He aims to position himself as a younger and more electable alternative to the 76-year-old former president.
The eventual Republican nominee will likely compete against Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2024 general election.
DeSantis joins a crowded field of potential candidates, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former Vice President Mike Pence is also considered a likely candidate but has not yet announced his bid.
DeSantis has been actively engaging with primary voters in key states throughout the year. He has utilized a super PAC to build a substantial political organization, amassing at least $30 million in funds.
By choosing Twitter for his announcement, DeSantis attempted to emulate the strategy that propelled Trump to political stardom. However, the online event faced technical difficulties, frustrating viewers and drawing mockery from Trump’s team.
Although DeSantis has adopted Trump’s fiery personality, populist policies, and some of his rhetoric, he holds an advantage over Trump in terms of electability. DeSantis won his Florida reelection by a significant margin and achieved several policy victories during the Republican-controlled Legislature’s session.
Trump has been actively undermining DeSantis’ political appeal, believing him to be the only legitimate threat for the Republican nomination. Trump recently criticized DeSantis’ previous votes in Congress on Social Security and Medicare, questioning his electability and calling him disloyal.
However, DeSantis faces additional hurdles in his campaign. Despite his prominence in Florida and appearances on Fox News, he is relatively unknown to primary voters in other states. Additionally, DeSantis struggles to display the charisma and quick thinking often required at the national level. He has avoided unscripted public appearances and media scrutiny as governor, which becomes more challenging as a presidential contender.
DeSantis’ limited relationships with party leaders and fellow elected officials also raise concerns about his ability to build the necessary coalition to defeat Trump. In contrast, Trump has garnered numerous endorsements in crucial states, including Florida.
Beyond the primary, DeSantis faces challenges with his far-right policies, which he has implemented as governor. His staunch stance against what he terms the “woke ideology” has resonated with conservative voters but drawn criticism from others. His actions include sending immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard to highlight immigration issues, signing the “Don’t Say Gay” law banning LGBTQ+ discussions in Florida public schools, and enacting stringent abortion restrictions.
DeSantis also signed a law allowing concealed firearms without permits, introduced measures that could restrict press freedom, and took control of a liberal arts college he believed was promoting leftist ideology. His notable battle with Disney, seizing control of its governing body due to opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law, further showcases his confrontational approach.
DeSantis benefits from a head start compared to other contenders, including Trump. His super PAC has been establishing campaign infrastructure in key states, positioning him well for the early GOP primary contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
Overall, DeSantis faces significant challenges and competition as he embarks on his presidential campaign, striving to secure the Republican nomination.