Ron DeSantis 2024 launch with Elon Musk derailed by tech issues amid awkward jokes about ‘melting servers’

The Florida governor is joining the increasingly crowded Republican primary field

Abe Asher
Thursday 25 May 2023 00:59 BST
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Gov Ron DeSantis announces his bid for president

Ron DeSantis’ unorthodox campaign launch got off to a troubled start on Wednesday evening due to technological issues with Twitter.

The Florida governor chose to officially kick off his bid for the White House on Twitter in a conversation with Elon Musk, but the beginning of their Twitter Spaces event was bedeviled by issues including long silences and a persistent echo. For some users, the Spaces feature crashed.

Mr DeSantis’ entrance into the race has been eagerly anticipated for months, with some Republicans viewing him as the candidate best positioned to defeat former president and current polling leader Donald Trump.

This campaign launch, which was already being criticised well before the technical issues that derailed it, may not fill people with confidence.

In the aftermath of the technical issues, Mr DeSantis was mocked by a wide range of political foes — progressives, liberals, and supporters of Mr Trump alike. Mr Musk, an increasingly outspoken figure whose tenure as Twitter owner has been defined by a number of commerical and political issues, took his share of the mockery as well.

Mr DeSantis has been touted as a presidential contender since partway through his first term as governor, winning fans on the right with a relentless focus on cultural issues like transgender rights, abortion rights, curtailing free speech in public schools, and battling corporations like Disney over their political stances.

Under Mr DeSantis’ leadership, the NAACP and Equality Florida have both issued travel advisories warning that the state is no longer safe for visitors who are Black or members of the LGBTQ+ community.

At the beginning of the year, Mr DeSantis was polling strongly — even leading Mr Trump in some surveys of early voting states. In recent months, however, that has changed as Mr Trump and his allies have begun attacking Mr DeSantis’ record as a congressman and public demeanor.

After the problematic campaign launch, Mr Trump’s allies wasted no time in going on the attack again.

Even embattled Rep George Santos of New York took an opportunity to laugh at Mr DeSantis’ expense.

Mr DeSantis and Mr Musk eventually pressed ahead with their conversation, which was moderated by tech entrepreneur and DeSantis donor David Sacks and included guests like right-wing activist Chris Rufo. As the hour approached 7pm on the East Coast, there were fewer than 300,000 people listening to the conversation.

Mr Sacks at one point argued that Twitter had likely crashed because of the size of the audience, with Mr Musk offering his thoughts as well.

“We had some scaling issues,” Mr Musk said.

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