DeSantis’ Campaign To Be President Of Twitter Had A Rough Start

by | May 24, 2023 | Politics

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential announcement came in a very fitting style for a Republican who has won the hearts and minds of the conservative media and influencer classes: on their favorite platform, with their favorite billionaire.DeSantis, who filed paperwork to run for president on Wednesday afternoon, ultimately made the announcement ― delayed for 26 minutes by technical difficulties ― on Wednesday night on Twitter alongside Elon Musk, who is increasingly known as much for interacting with far-right commentators spreading misinformation as he is for revolutionizing commercial space travel and electric cars. AdvertisementThe resulting disaster, mocked by his political opponents in both parties, served as a helpful reminder of the risk of DeSantis’ strategy of going all in on an alignment with those commentators, several of whom ― including Musk friend and venture capitalist David Sacks and conservative education activist Christopher Rufo ― spoke during the event, but rarely about the issues at the center of most Americans’ minds.DeSantis’ plan for winning the nomination over the party’s front-runner, former President Donald Trump, involves tempting those same commentators with their favorite red meat issues: attacking transgender rights, the failures of the corporate media, the superiority of Bitcoin, owning the libs, relitigating how DeSantis’ management of COVID was superior to that of other governors — Florida’s 18th-highest per capita death rate in the country be damned — and cracking down on immigration.From that perspective, DeSantis played the hits on Wednesday night. Much of the event was dedicated to celebrating his decision to bypass the “corporate media” and instead promote himself on a platform owned by the world’s second-richest man. The governor attacked Joe Biden as “controlled by the woke mob” and said the president was suffering from the “woke mind virus.” DeSantis said he was protecting children from “sex toys.” The assembled right-wing commentariat loved all of it.“We need a cool-headed, ruthless assassin to go in and take on our woke government,” Sacks said at one point, praising DeSantis.AdvertisementThe problem? As Democrats found during the 2020 presidential contest, what thrills the online chattering classes does not necessarily translate into votes. (In modern political lingo, “online” has come to mean more in touch with the concerns of professional activists than the average voter. It’s a flawed shorthand ― who isn’t online these days? ― but we’re rolling with it.) Biden, 80, is famously offline. While his inner circle’s purported disdain for Twitter has been occasionally overstated — Ron Klain, Biden’s first chief of staff, has sent out nearly 70,000 messages on the platform — it has generally been unafraid to buck the desires of progressive activists who can shape debate on the platform. The Republican Party, shaped by a decades-long conservative movement, is far more ideologically coherent than Democrats are, so it’s less likely that chasing the whims of right-wing influencers will lead a candidate to fall flat in a GOP primary. A focus on culture war topics could, h …

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