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DeSantis to kick off presidential campaign on Twitter Spaces with billionaire Elon Musk before hitting conservative media circuit and heading to early voting states

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis speaks during an election night watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, on November 8, 2022.GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images
  • DeSantis will announce his presidential run on Twitter.

  • He'll do so in a conversation with Elon Musk.

  • Musk previously said he'd support DeSantis for president, but said now he's not endorsing in the race.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida will announce Wednesday on Twitter that he's running for president.

DeSantis will make the long-awaited announcement in a Twitter Spaces interview with Elon Musk NBC News first reported. The audio-only conversation will happen at 6 p.m. EST, according to Fox News.

"I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis and he has quite an announcement to make and will be the first time that something like this is happening on social media," Musk said during a Wall Street Journal Council Summit interview on Tuesday, adding that he would have "real questions and answers, not scripted."

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Making his candidacy official brings DeSantis to the top of the primary contest against former President Donald Trump, though the former real estate mogul and reality TV star still dominates in the polls.

DeSantis is set to huddle with donors starting Wednesday and into Thursday at the luxurious Four Seasons hotel, located in the downtown Brickell area of Miami, which is a financial district.

On Monday, DeSantis altered his Twitter handle from @RonDeSantisFL to simply @RonDeSantis.

Musk said on Twitter last year that he would support DeSantis for president, but said Tuesday that he would not be endorsing any particular candidate. When asked to respond to the endorsement last year, DeSantis said he welcomed "support from African Americans."

Musk, who is white, was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and lived there until he was 17 before moving to Canada.

After the Twitter appearance, DeSantis will appear on Fox News at 8 p.m. with Trey Gowdy. Lindsey Curnutte, spokeswoman for the DeSantis political operation, confirmed the information to Insider.

The governor will then speak with conservative radio host Mark Levin at 8:30 p.m., a producer from the show told Insider.

Elon Musk
Elon MuskJonathan Ernst/Reuters

Trump allies criticize the plans

Some political operators were surprised that DeSantis chose not to hold his first interview with Fox News. Ever since his time serving in the US House, starting in 2013, DeSantis has had a collaborative relationship with the network. That continued into his governorship, where the network's broadcast and digital reporters often get first dibs at major news.

News that the DeSantis 2024 announcement will take place on Twitter comes just weeks after Fox News abruptly said it was ousting political commentator Tucker Carlson from the network. Carlson has plans to air his new primetime show on Twitter.

"Smart," Sam Nunberg, who was a senior adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, told Insider of the DeSantis announcement plans. "Fuck Fox. You can quote me."

Karoline Leavitt, spokeswoman for the Trump-affiliated super-PAC Make America Great Again Inc., in a statement called the launch "one of the most out-of-touch campaign launches in modern history."

"The only thing less relatable than a niche campaign launch on Twitter is DeSantis after party at the uber elite Four Seasons resort in Miami," he said.

Trump frequently used Twitter as president, often making major announcements that drove the news cycle and sent aides scrambling. He was kicked off the website after the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by his supporters, but Musk reinstated his account when he bought the company for $44 billion.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a question from Insider over whether Trump would return to Twitter around the same time that DeSantis makes his announcement, or whether he would choose to comment live on the event over Twitter. He did the live commentary during President Joe Biden's 2023 State of the Union Address.

A senior adviser on the Trump campaign panned the idea of launching a campaign on Twitter. "Announcing on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis," the person said. "This way he doesn't have to interact with people and the media can't ask him any questions." Trump made his 2024 announcement at Mar-a-Lago, and while the press was invited he didn't take questions from the press afterwards.

John Thomas, who ran a super PAC in support of a DeSantis presidential run called Ron to the Rescue, had similar observations, saying, "Twitter is not real life."

He told Insider he thought "DeSantis must humanize himself immediately. The fastest way to do that is to be seen with real people in real life."

An association with Musk, however, could help because he's popular with GOP voters, Thomas added.

DeSantis' social skills have come under attack by the Trump campaign as the race heats up, drawing news reports about his time on the trail and whether he seems uncomfortable with meeting voters. On Wednesday, Trump said on Truth Social that DeSantis "desperately needs a personality transplant and, to the best of my knowledge, they are not medically available yet."

Conservatives have heralded Musk for promising to unleash free speech on Twitter, though the company has faced drastic staff cuts ever since the Tesla and SpaceX CEO took over.

This month, Musk named NBC's Linda Yaccarino as Twitter's new CEO, saying she would focus on business operations and he would focus on product design and new technology.

DeSantis will be the seventh person to enter the GOP primary that includes Trump, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, radio host Larry Elder, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who held his campaign event Monday.

Other candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, are still considering entering the primary.

Should DeSantis, 44, become the GOP nominee, he would face off against Joe Biden, the oldest president in history who will turn 81 this year. DeSantis has made his young, telegenic family with his wife, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis, a centerpiece of his public image.

"Big, if true..." Casey DeSantis tweeted about the news Tuesday, with a smiley face. She later shared a video teasing her husband's presidential run, with a voiceover that said, "America has been worth it every single time."

DeSantis had planned to do an in-person event next week in his hometown of Dunedin, Florida, but ditched those plans in favor of visits to early voting states, CNN reported.

May 24, 2023: This story originally ran on May 23, 2023, and has been updated to include new information.

Read the original article on Business Insider