DeSantis announces presidential candidacy, despite Twitter meltdown

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis formally announced his campaign for president today after months of speculation about whether he would challenge former President Donald Trump. Scroll down or click here for live updates, and refresh the page for the latest news.

DeSantis emerged as a major GOP star in recent years thanks to his handling of the pandemic and culture war battles, but will enter the primary race as a big underdog against Trump.

Polls suggest DeSantis has an uphill climb, but he widely is viewed as Trump’s strongest challenger and consistently ranks second in GOP surveys.

A Navy veteran and Harvard Law School graduate, DeSantis is expected to campaign on his record of conservative policy victories in Florida and as a candidate who is more electable, less drama and has less baggage than Trump, who has mercilessly attacked him for months.

What people are saying on Twitter

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The final questions were on matters of finance as they related to “activist-guided financial institutions, as radio host and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch put it. DeSantis talked up his fight against ESG and businesses investing on the basis of anything besides profit for shareholders, and railed against a national bank digital currency.

“I think this whole ESG movement is really trying to do, through the financial sector, what they could never achieve through the ballot box,” DeSantis said, and talked about banning ESG from Florida pension funds.

However, DeSantis is all for bitcoin.

“You have every right to do bitcoin,” he said. “The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is ’cause they don’t control it.”

The governor did not mention the recent fall of many cryptocurrencies, the use of bitcoin to fund illegal activities, or the place of cryptocurrency in one of the biggest fraud cases in U.S. history.

The former president wasn’t silent during DeSantis event with Musk, posting to his own platform Truth Social multiple times.

“I’d like to personally congratulate ‘Rob’ DeSanctimonious on finally announcing that he will be entering the race for President of the United States,” he said.

And later, “‘Rob,’ My big Red Button is bigger, better, stronger, and is working (TRUTH!), yours does not! (per my conversation with Kim Jung Un, of North Korea, soon to become my friend!)”

Christopher Rufo, who has led the fight against what he has described as “critical race theory” and was made a trustee this year at New College of Sarasota, stopped in to praise DeSantis for his efforts to change education in Florida.

“I’ve had the honor of working with you in the past few years on critical race theory, gender ideology and the DEI bureacracy and what I’ve seen, up close and personal, is that while many conservative politicians, going back decades, have made headlines and got on television playing culture war, they never actually get anything done. And what you’ve done over the last few years is really astonishing.”

Rufo said that DeSantis has “established a blueprint for fighting back against the left’s long march of the institution and making sure that those institutions reflect the values of Florida voters, not left-wing activists and the partisan press.” But how would DeSantis bring that to the “swamp” of D.C.?

Most Americans agree with what Florida is doing, DeSantis said. He argued that parents want their children judged on merit, not “roadkill in some type of woke Olympics.” He also mentioned his working-class upbringing.

“I just know instinctively kind of, what, like normal people think about all this stuff,” he said, saying that “legacy media” and the left are “outside where the average American is.”

How will DeSantis get things done, he was asked, when others have talked a good game but not accomplished their goals?

“It’s a great question,” he said, “because I share that frustration.”

DeSantis knows he’s going to follow through and do what he tells people he’s going to do, he said. “You’ve got to know how to use your leverage,” he says, to accomplish your goals, using whatever options are available.

“What buttons can we push?”

On illegal immigration, DeSantis vowed to “move on day one” and declare a national emergency. “We’ll construct a border wall.”

He said he plans to “reverse what Biden is doing. You need to shut the border down.”

Immigrants coming to the U.S. were skipping other countries where they could apply for asylum to come here, he said, because they could apply here and then be “released into the country” for up to three years while they waited for their hearing.

“We’re gonna stop this insanity once and for all.”

DeSantis repeated his previous claim that no books have been banned in Florida and called stories about empty shelves in schools a “hoax.”

While the state has not officially banned any titles, the vague language of the new laws and the increased ease in which individuals can complain about a book and have it at least temporarily removed from school shelves across the state have caused school districts wary of retribution to remove books from school libraries and teacher classrooms for months until they can be vetted.

DeSantis talked about the need to remove sexually explicit from classrooms and said he was “making sure we make curation choices that are consistent with state standards.”

Why is DeSantis still fighting Disney? Especially since, as moderator David Sacks said, he’s already won?

“First of all, Florida stands for the protection of children,” DeSantis said. By objecting to DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education bill, “Disney obviously supported injecting ideology into elementary schools,” he said.

DeSantis explained that for 50 years, “whenever Disney wanted something in Florida politics they pretty much got it.”

He blamed Disney for filing a lawsuit against the state as “the reason why there’s a fight” and accused them of just wanting to keep their special privileges. “They want to be treated differently than Universal and Sea World,” he said.

He added that Disney should’ve been thanking him for opening up the state early. “No one’s made more money for Disney than me,” he said, adding that he believed California parks were closed for over a year.

“Well, first, we need an honest reckoning about what happened during COVID,” DeSantis said, “and the only honest reckoning is all the agencies, the elite, they failed.”

DeSantis admitted it was a novel virus, but said the reaction was due more to a need to control the narrative than to address “evidence-based” reason. “I think all of those agencies need to be cleaned out,” he said. “Major, major overhauls of the whole enchilada.”

DeSantis was just asked what he thought of the NAACP advisory that said Florida is not safe for minorities.

“Claiming that Florida is unsafe is a total farce,” DeSantis said. “I mean, are you kidding?” Other states are awash in crime, he said, while “in Florida our crime streak is at a 50-year low.”

In Baltimore and Chicago, the governor said, “kids are more likely to get shot than get a first-class education.

“I don’t see the NAACP batting an eye at that.”

They’re back up, to a smaller audience of roughly 50,000 listeners.

“We have a lot to do to get this country back on track,” DeSantis said.

President Joe Biden was quick to jump in on the flood of people on Twitter mocking Gov. DeSantis for his disastrous Twitter Spaces event.

“This link works,” his team posted, with a link to the Biden/Harris campaign.

Twenty minutes in and not much has been said in Elon Musk’s Twitter Spaces event where Gov. DeSantis is expected to formally announce his bid to become president of the United States. The sound cut out multiple times, feedback sounded once and DeSantis was demoted from Speaker to Listener three times.

“We’re just trying to get it going, there’s so many people,” somebody said. There were roughly 250 thousand listeners at the time.

“This is a disaster. Not surprising,” tweeted senior Trump adviser Chris LaCivita.

‘Did y’all not test this first?’ Twitter reacts to Ron DeSantis’ announcement crash

Twitter Spaces fail: DeSantis’s presidential announcement on Twitter plagued by technical problems

The Twitter Spaces event has begun but is having technical difficulties. However, Gov. DeSantis’ own Twitter account made the announcement already, with the message, ‘I’m running for president to lead our Great American Comeback” and a video.

That didn’t take long. Just hours after Gov. DeSantis signed an omnibus election law (SB 7050), the League of Women Voters of Florida is suing Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd to block parts of it.

“Senate Bill 7050 is yet another assault on democracy and attempt to muzzle Floridians,” Cecile M. Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said in a release.“Florida seems intent on making the act of voting nerve-racking. We are forced to turn to the courts to ensure nonpartisan community-based voter registration organizations, like the League, can continue their important work of registering voters and ensure voters have equal and meaningful access to the ballot box.”

The bill, which also clarified that DeSantis could run for president while remaining governor, increases fine limits for third-party voter registration organizations for every volunteer with felony convictions or who is not a U.S. citizen, adds limits and potential fines for civic engagement groups, and other restrictions.

GIFFORDS, a gun violence prevention organization led by Gabrielle Giffords, a former Arizona Congresswoman who was shot in the head in a mass shooting in a shopping center parking lot in 2011, released a statement ahead of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign announcement.

“Today should be a day of remembrance for the lives lost in Uvalde one year ago, but Ron DeSantis is making it all about himself. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time. While the rest of the country was mourning the tragic shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, DeSantis was posing for a photo op at a gun store with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who shockingly believed the Parkland shooting was faked. His disregard for the victims of gun violence is no surprise, considering his insistence on pushing the dangerous ‘Anyone with a Gun’ permitless carry legislation despite widespread opposition from those he had sworn to protect.

“This issue isn’t going away — in fact, it will only grow more important to voters. Gun violence has increased in Hispanic communities 66% since 2014 and now takes the lives of more than 12 US Hispanics each day.  Access to guns is now the top public health concern, with one-third of voters saying it’s the most important issue for Congress to focus on. If Governor DeSantis is to turn around his struggling campaign he should spend more time listening to voters and less time clamoring for the spotlight.”

U. S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA, has weighed in on the DeSantis candidacy.

“America First Republicans and MAGA have been loud and clear,” she tweeted this afternoon. “President Donald J. Trump is the only candidate they want to send to the general election in 2024.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has given himself the thumbs up to run for president without resigning.

The governor signed a bill into law Wednesday that “clarifies” that Florida’s “resign to run” law doesn’t apply to those campaigning for president or vice president, a topic that had received much debate and attention as DeSantis nears his presidential campaign launch.

— Douglas Soule

While Trump’s lead in polls has grown in recent months, DeSantis still has more money, fewer legal problems and a discernable path to victory, say various Republicans and political analysts – if he can execute on the campaign trail. To become competitive with Trump, here are the vitally important tasks DeSantis must accomplish.

— David Jackson, USA TODAY

According to ABC News Will Steakin, the Trump-supporting Make America Great Again Inc PAC is driving a truck around Four Seasons in Miami with anti-DeSantis messages.

The Democratic National Committee accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of pursuing an “extreme” agenda as the group tries to paint the newly-minted presidential candidate as outside the political mainstream.

Here’s the full statement from DNC Chair Jaime Harrison:

“Ron DeSantis has pushed an extreme MAGA agenda focused on ripping Floridians’ freedoms away and now he wants to take that agenda nationwide.”

“DeSantis got his start as a co-founder of the ultra-right wing House Freedom Caucus where he supported Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare and Social Security as we know it, voted for national abortion bans, worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and supported Donald Trump’s tax giveaways to the biggest corporations. Now, as Floridians suffer under some of the highest housing and health care costs in the nation, DeSantis has tripled down on a MAGA agenda – including banning abortion, making it easier for criminals to carry guns, signing laws that allowed book bans, parroting Putin’s talking points, and bailing out huge corporations while Florida families foot the bill.”

“If there was any doubt — DeSantis’s announcement turns up the volume on an already messy Republican primary. One thing is guaranteed — whoever makes it out will only have done so by catering to the most MAGA, right-wing Republicans in the primary.”

— Zac Anderson

USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida asked, “What would a DeSantis presidency mean for the nation?”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce, which advocates for private businesses and endorsed DeSantis as governor, emphasized that it doesn’t endorse presidential candidates and has no comment on them at this time.

“However, on the economic front,” the Chamber pointed out, “Florida is creating 1 out of every 11 new jobs nationally, is the #1 ranked state for higher education for seven years running, just experienced its largest single quarter of tourism ever, and continues to lead the nation in both population and income migration. In just the last few years, Florida has moved into the number one spot in the United States for new business start-ups and black-owned businesses with employees, and ranks number two for Hispanic-owned businesses with employees and number two for women-owned businesses with employees.”

— Douglas Soule

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of threatening Florida lawmakers with his veto power to acquire their presidential endorsement.

But two Palm Beach County lawmakers who endorsed DeSantis aren’t buying that story.

Minutes after Gov. Ron DeSantis filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, making his campaign official, the Democratic National Committee blasted the governor and warned what his agenda would mean if expanded nationwide. 

“Ron DeSantis has pushed an extreme MAGA agenda focused on ripping Floridians’ freedoms away and now he wants to take that agenda nationwide,” said DNC Chair Jaime Harrison in a press release. “If there was any doubt – DeSantis’s announcement turns up the volume on an already messy Republican primary. One thing is guaranteed – whoever makes it out will only have done so by catering to the most MAGA, right-wing Republicans in the primary.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried also quickly responded to the news, saying the country “can’t afford” a DeSantis presidency.

“Floridians have had a front row seat to the devastating impacts of Ron DeSantis’s extreme MAGA agenda, literally footing the bill for his national ambitions and paying the price for the dangerous laws he’s pushed,” she said in an emailed statement.

— Douglas Soule

Now that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially thrown his hat into the presidential race, the stage has been set for the 2024 presidential primary races, with 10 candidates having already filed, seven of which are Republicans. Here’s a deeper look at each of the candidates.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially entered the 2024 presidential race today after months of anticipation, launching a campaign that will lean heavily on culture war battles and a contrarian COVID-19 record that brought him national attention and made Florida a leading laboratory for conservative governing.

— Zac Anderson

The disaffected conservatives with the Lincoln Project are known for cutting criticism of former President Donald Trump, but they’re training their fire on Gov. Ron DeSantis as he enters the 2024 presidential race.

With DeSantis poised to launch his presidential bid on Twitter Wednesday, The Lincoln Project released a “eulogy” for a campaign the group describes as over before it even began. The video compiles two minutes of cringe-worthy DeSantis clips.

— Zac Anderson

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is welcoming Gov. Ron DeSantis to the 2024 presidential race with an attack ad accusing the governor of opposing Trump’s agenda while in Congress.

The ad calls DeSantis — who will launch his campaign tonight on Twitter — a “swamp creature” and hits him on issues such as Medicare, Social Security and funding for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

— Zac Anderson

USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida asked, “What would a DeSantis presidency mean for the nation?”

“The founders of our great nation understood the importance of an educated citizenry,” wrote Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, Florida’s largest teachers association. “Since the invention of public education in the United States, the focus has been on stimulating free thought, problem-solving and developing lifelong learners who use creativity and ingenuity to change the world.

“Gov. DeSantis’ policies have been counter to core American principles. He has attacked free thought in Florida’s preK-12 schools, colleges and universities with laws that limit instruction and safe learning environments for students. His constant accusations against teachers and public schools, along with his policies of low and unfair pay, have created the worst teacher and staff shortage the state has ever seen.

“His authoritarian approach to governing schools from the governor’s office through actions against school board members and superintendents has created a system of fear that shortchanges student learning. A DeSantis presidency would likely take those divisive policies to a national level, destroying the very fabric of our country, a strong system of high-quality public schools.”

— Douglas Soule

Because people online are asking: No. A vice president must have the same qualifications as a president. Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa and a vice president must be a naturally-born U.S. citizen.

Meanwhile, DeSantis continues to make his mark on Florida. With Tuesday’s appointment of Judge Meredith Sasso, five of the state Supreme Court’s seven sitting justices are DeSantis appointees, which has allowed the governor to steer the court firmly to the right.

A person with knowledge of DeSantis’ plans to roll out his formal candidacy told CNN that he is no longer planning to hold an event in his hometown of Dunedin. Instead, CNN reports, he is likely to follow today’s Twitter Spaces announcement and make appearances in early nominating states.

Leading up to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement, USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida reached out to a multitude of different groups with diverse political leanings to ask the same question: “What would a DeSantis presidency mean for the nation?”

Conservative parents’ rights group Moms for Liberty Co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich didn’t mention DeSantis in their response: “We need leaders who support parental rights in education. We are excited that we will have more candidates this year who don’t think parents’ rights end at the classroom door. The government is not in charge of raising children or teaching values – parents are.”

— Douglas Soule

DeSantis’ campaign is expected to focus heavily on his record as governor of Florida, with a message that boils down to “Make America Florida.”

The governor has pushed an unprecedented barrage of conservative policies that have steered Florida hard to the right, thrilling the GOP base while alarming critics.

Here’s a summary of DeSantis’ Florida record.

DeSantis is expected to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission today, making his campaign official.  DeSantis would enter the presidential race weakened by Trump’s constant attacks and polling well below his peak after a dominant re-election win last year, but still with considerable goodwill among Republicans, a huge amount of campaign cash and much less baggage than the twice-impeached Trump, who is facing 34 criminal charges.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to launch his presidential campaign today on Twitter during an event with company CEO Elon Musk, according to media reports.

The Twitter Spaces event with Musk and DeSantis at 6 p.m. Wednesday will be moderated by tech entrepreneur David Sacks, NBC News reported citing three anonymous sources. A spokesperson for DeSantis’ political team confirmed the event to CNN.

We’ll embed it here when it begins, and here’s how to find it elsewhere

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