Awkward Silence: Ron DeSantis’s Bold Twitter Gambit That Flopped
It was a declaration that was not heard in the whole world.
Ron DeSantis plans to launch his presidential campaign Wednesday evening with a major social media gambit, introducing himself during an audio-only Twitter forum with Elon Musk. His 2024 bid began with a moment of silence. Then many more.
A voice cuts in, then two – Mr. Musk’s? – only to disappear again.
“It’s quiet now,” someone whispered. It was true.
“We have so many people here that we’re melting down the servers,” said David Sachs, the nominal moderator, “which is a good sign.” It wasn’t true.
Soon, all signs were bad. Catch the music playing for the magic. Some users were summarily booted from the platform, where hundreds of thousands of accounts were gathered to listen.
Mr. Musk said at one point that “the servers are under some stress,” perhaps unaware that his mic was at least briefly hot.
For 25 minutes, the only person who was undeniably not talking (at least on the microphone) was Mr. DeSantis.
The Florida governor’s chosen rollout location was always a risk, a sensational gamble on Mr. Musk, a famously charming and oxygen-stealing co-star, and the persuasive powers of the governor’s own disembodied voice. (“The channel,” Donald J. Trump has called it.)
But the downsides of a higher order proved more relevant. Twitter’s streaming tool, called Spaces, has been Historically bad. Executive competence, core to the DeSantis campaign message, was conspicuously absent. And for a politician accused of online impropriety for years — a former DeSantis aide said he regularly read his Twitter mentions — the incident amounts to stark confirmation, which That would be a gesture of zeitgeisty instinct rather than turning into a conference call from hell.
“You can tell by some mistakes that it’s real,” Mr. Musk said.
At 6:26 p.m., Mr. DeSantis finally announced himself, long after his campaign announced its intentions, reading from a script that often echoes an email sent to reporters more than 20 minutes earlier. He used to read like a parrot.
“Well,” he opened, “I’m running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”
After ticking through a curated biography that noted his military background and his “exciting” influence, Mr. DeSantis stayed on the line, where Mr. Sachs admitted to the mess.
“Thank you for resolving these technical issues,” he said. “What made you take the chance to do it this way?”
Mr. DeSantis quickly turned to his own Covid-era responsibility for Florida, where he said he had made decisions that “cut against the grain.”