Five Takeaways From a Rocky 2024 Debut

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ botched 2024 start on Twitter was a distraction from an opportunity to introduce himself as a serious contender to unseat former President Donald J. Trump.

It was a highly anticipated moment for the Florida governor’s re-election after months of declining polling, made Wednesday’s painful 20-plus minutes of Twitter outages even more frustrating for his supporters.

For all the media attention on Twitter’s failure — the Daily Mail called it a “disaster,” Fox News a “disaster,” Breitbart News a “debacle” — Mr. DeSantis later took to the familiar airwaves. found Fox News’, a much more traditional — and effective — method of communicating to primary voters. His presence there was the first time he made a solid case for what a DeSantis presidency would look like.

Still, it was a night his team will be eager to put behind them. And it highlighted Mr. DeSantis’ potential success both as a candidate and a campaign still in the making while under intense attack from a dominant Republican front-runner.

Here are five takeaways.

The delay was longer than some campaign speeches.

For more than 25 minutes, Twitter wheezed its way through what should have been Mr. DeSantis’ spectacular announcement of his 2024 candidacy, before he pulled the plug and began, hotly, With long pauses of dead air caused by the whispers of the mic.

A presidential announcement is a rare occasion. This is the moment when a candidate can draw all the attention to himself and his vision. Instead, Mr. DeSantis almost wound up at his own event as a panelist, sharing the stage with Elon Musk and his defunct social media site.

Fox News at one point ran a banner headline on its website that featured a picture of Mr. Musk, not Mr. DeSantis. “Want to actually see and hear Ron DeSantis?” Read breaking news alerts on the site. “Tune into Fox News.”

Even earlier, Mr. Musk’s decision to launch his campaign on Twitter had received mixed reviews. It was innovative, yes—and an opportunity to potentially reach a much larger online audience—but also dangerous.

The technically challenged result obscured some of Mr. DeSantis’ arguments and alienated him from listeners and potential donors. For a candidate whose promise of competence is a Republican selling point, it was a less-than-ideal first impression. Both Mr. Trump and President Biden mocked the rollout mercilessly.

Mr. DeSantis raised $1 million in an hour, a large amount but far from the record for a presidential cook-off, his aides said, without providing details on how many individual donations. Donors contributed a small portion.

Mr. Biden’s campaign wanted to invest by buying Google ads to show Biden’s donation pages to people who were searching for terms like “DeSantis disaster” and “DeSantis flop.”

The DeSantis-Musk debate on Twitter sometimes turns into a cul-de-sac of the hyper-online right.

Here’s a taste of the very theoretical and surprising message Mr. DeSantis delivered:

“Some of the problems and theoretical capture with the university—which, not by accident, you can trace all the way back to the accreditation cartels. Well, guess what? To become an accreditor, how do you do that? You have to go to the U.S. Dept. Education has to be accredited. So we’re going to have an alternative accreditation regime, where instead of saying ‘you’ll only be accredited if you do the DEI’, you’ll have an accreditor who says , ‘If you do DEI, we won’t accredit you. Want a colour-blind, merit-based accreditation scheme.’


Mr. DeSantis repeatedly highlighted his blue-collar roots. But it has long been clear that Mr. DeSantis polls far better among college-educated Republicans than those without college degrees, who overwhelmingly support Mr. Trump and the growing Republican Party. They form the rural base. And his campaign’s introductory night showed why.

The conversation turned to complaints about the horrors of The Atlantic and Vanity Fair magazines and discussions about cryptocurrencies and the “debanking” of “politically incorrect businesses.”

Later, in his interview with Trey Gowdy on Fox News, Mr. DeSantis threw out acronyms — ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance Investing) was just one — without explaining what they meant.

Mr DeSantis made it clear on Wednesday that he was not ready to punch Mr Trump yet – but indicated where he would aim once he did.

He went through a Twitter space session and two interviews — one on Fox News with Mr. Gowdy, his former congressional colleague, and another with conservative radio host Mark Levin — without mentioning Mr. Trump by name. (The words came out of his mouth at one point: “Merit must trump identity politics,” the governor said during a Twitter chat.)

But his attempts to contradict himself with the nameless were frequent.

Mr. DeSantis said on Fox News that the reason Mr. Biden escaped “shenanigans” on the southern border was because there was no wall to protect him. Mr. DeSantis pledged to build a “comprehensive” border wall — a rebuke of Mr. Trump’s failure to deliver on that signature promise.

Mr. DeSantis also reviewed a line of attack that is expected to center his campaign: Mr. Trump’s first-term appointments.

Mr. DeSantis blamed the Federal Reserve — Jerome H. Powell was appointed by Mr. Trump to chair the Fed — for fueling inflation. And he said he would fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, another Trump appointee, on the first day.

Mr. DeSantis took his sharpest jab at Mr. Trump at the last minute with Mr. Gowdy, who asked him what he would say to candidates who might not want to debate. It was an apparent reference to Mr. Trump, who has indicated he may skip one or both of the first Republican debates. Mr. DeSantis, who needs debates for breakout moments, called on people to participate.

“No one in this world is entitled to anything, Trey, you have to earn it,” said Mr. DeSantis. “That’s exactly what I plan to do, and I think the debates are a big part of that process.”

Mr. DeSantis reviewed his hardline policies to counter the Chinese Communist Party. While Mr Trump has focused much of his presidency on the trade dimension of the relationship, Mr DeSantis has spoken more broadly about countering China’s influence, territorial expansion and military ambitions.

On Fox News, Mr. DeSantis called for a 21st-century version of the Monroe Doctrine to counter China’s influence in Latin America. The Monroe Doctrine, formulated by President James Monroe in the early 19th century, warned European nations not to colonize the American hinterland.

Mr. DeSantis also said that the United States needs to build strong partnerships with India, Australia and other allies to counter Chinese expansion in the Pacific. And he called for a major manufacturing revival — saying the U.S. has become too closely intertwined economically with China.

His remarks indicated that as president, Mr. DeSantis would be more comprehensively aggressive toward China than Mr. Trump was in his first term. Mr Trump spent much of the first three years of his presidency turning a blind eye to China’s military expansionism and human rights abuses as he sought a trade deal with Beijing. Mr. DeSantis has signaled that he wants to confront China on all fronts from the start.

Mr. DeSantis built on what his allies say will be one of his most important contrasts against Mr. Trump: his ability to wield power effectively.

In his Twitter Spaces live chat, Mr. DeSantis talked about his extensive record of implementing conservative policies as governor in Florida. He cited his ability to use government power for conservative purposes. He said he had studied the “various leverage points under Article 2” of the Constitution and would apply that knowledge if elected president. On Fox News, he reiterated his plans to use Article 2 to rebuild the government.

Mr. DeSantis indicated that he would be more heavy-handed with the federal bureaucracy than Mr. Trump. That’s part of one of his core arguments: that he will not only fight harder than Mr. Trump, but that he will bring about major change where the former president lacked.

In his interview on Fox News, he portrayed the FBI as one of many federal agencies, and said he would have stronger control over the entire Justice Department.

He rejected the notion that presidents should view these agencies as independent, saying that if, as president, he found out that FBI officials were colluding with tech companies — government officials — , referring to requests to remove content deemed harmful to Twitter – then “everyone involved will be fired.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *