Ron DeSantis’s bid to become to the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential candidate got off to a wretched start on Wednesday, when the Twitter Spaces event at which he made his announcement in the company of Elon Musk was hit by a series of technical glitches.
The Florida governor’s appearance on the audio-only platform was riddled with errors, the chatroom having to be rebooted at one point and the sound cutting out repeatedly, causing him to be widely ridiculed by everyone from Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Donald Trump, who had a field day posting cruel memes and branding the occasion a “failure to launch” that underlined his rival’s inexperience.
Discussing the “DeSaster” on her MSNBC show The ReidOut on Wednesday night, anchor Joy Reid joined in the mockery of the event and of Mr DeSantis more generally, labelling him “odd” and invoking a notorious allegation first reported by The Daily Beast — that he once ate chocolate pudding with his fingers in front of appalled staffers on a flight from Tallahassee to Washington, DC, which was subsequently turned into a crass attack ad by the pro-Trump Make America Great Again PAC.
Ms Reid ran that ad before segueing into another clip of Mr DeSantis meeting supporters at a fundraising bash in Sioux Center, Iowa, last weekend in which he wipes his hand across his face before patting an elderly gentleman sitting nearby on the shoulder.
“Part of running for office is shaking hands,” the host commented. “Not only does this dude eat pudding with his hands, he literally wipes his nose and wiped snot on somebody’s shirt. We have [video] of it.
“It’s like, ‘Don’t shake his hand because you’re either gonna get pudding and spit on it, or you’re gonna get snot on it! Don’t touch his hands!’ And that weird laugh! What is going on with this man?!”
To be fair to the candidate, no actual snot is visible in the clip.
But that did not stop the footage surfacing online earlier this week, with political pundit Ron Filipkowski among those sharing it on Twitter.
Users duly chimed in with more video of Mr DeSantis shaking hands with another man at the same event seconds afterwards and of an earlier incident in which the governor appears to do the something similar on stage, prompting the poster to joke that he was “snot” destined for the White House.
On YouTube, Mr DeSantis was labelled “Dirty Ron”, “a pig” and “DeSgusting” and accused of carrying out “a middle school move” and representing “a walking biohazard”.
“He’s just preparing America for what he will do to the country”, one person wrote.
The Independent has contacted the DeSantis campaign for comment.
Even more damning than Ms Reid was one of her guests for the same segment, ex-Republican congressman David Jolly, since estranged from the party, who chuckled that “the biggest day in the political life” of Mr DeSantis had been “absolutely humiliating, rawly embarrassing, emasculating, mortifying, choose your word.”
He continued: “This has been a disaster for Ron and Casey DeSantis. But it is also very telling. And I think it speaks to the narrative that the Donald Trump camp is trying to lay on Ron DeSantis but, honestly, tonight, now Nikki Haley and Tim Scott have a free shot as well.
“Because even the decision to do this on Twitter Spaces leans into the weirdness of Ron DeSantis and it also suggests his greatest vulnerability is this idea that he’s Governor Safe Space, that he can only be approached and he can only get in front of people if it’s been orchestrated and he’s in a bubble.”
More seriously, Mr Jolly went on to chastise the candidate for promoting “Christian white nationalist themes”, which, he said, “bring up this culture war” and only serve to marginalise “people in already mariginalised communities in the state of Florida”.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies