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DeSantis Campaign Launch on Twitter Goes Up in Flames


TALLAHASSEE  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially launched his 2024 presidential campaign in a Twitter Spaces conversation with Elon Musk on Wednesday in what may be remembered as the most anti-climatic presidential announcement in modern history. The unconventional platform proved incapable of the task at hand, as technical glitches and other issues continuously marred the event.

Twitter Spaces is an audio-only live stream on which up to 13 people can participate, while the public listens in. It can be thought of as a sort of podcast live stream, but exclusively on Twitter. Twitter first launched Spaces in November 2020 in an effort to compete with the rising popularity of a similar startup platform called Clubhouse. As Clubhouse quickly flamed out, however, Spaces faded into the platform's background until Musk completed his purchase of the social media platform in October of last year and began looking to it as a potential competitor against other platforms.

Technical issues immediately spoiled the audio-only event, which could not properly launch for more than 20 minutes. While around 500,000 accounts were tuned in initially, the audience shrunk to far fewer than half of that (around 100-200k) for the rest of the event, much of which seemed to be more focused on promoting the platform than the governor's announcement.

Musk and his co-host, tech entrepreneur/DeSantis supporter David Sacks, continuously tried to spin the disastrous event into a validation of DeSantis' popularity, with Sacks proclaiming the governor had ""broken the internet"" with the largest online audience ever assembled. In reality, millions upon millions of users have simultaneously viewed live streams on other platforms such as YouTube and Facebook on many occasions.

Once the event was stabilized, things didn't get much better. DeSantis read a scripted monologue directly from his campaign video that lasted nearly five minutes (and seemed much longer). Meanwhile, many of the members of his camp who were included in the broadcast used more of their time to fawn over Musk and his purchase of Twitter than to make policy arguments for a DeSantis presidency.

While left-leaning mainstream outlets and indy YouTube channels had a field day with the disastrous launch, conservative outlets including Fox News also piled on. The Daily Mail dubbed him Ron DiSaster, while the Internet quickly lit up with memes parodying the romantic comedy Failure to Launch, playing on the ""Preparing to Launch"" message that appeared on screen during the technical glitches.

The worst criticism, however, came from former President Donald Trump, who quickly pronounced his rival's candidacy as being over before it started.

Trump's 2024 campaign followed up with ads directly attacking DeSantis on policy, including digs on his Congressional record on issues such as advocating cutting social security, voting against funding for a border wall, and favoring a 23 percent flat tax that would hurt working families. Another ad from a pro-Trump group lampoons DeSantis as Ron DeSalesTax.

DeSantis has seen his polling success when measured head to head against Trump cut in half since January. The governor is hosting a series of fundraising events through the weekend, hoping for a strong financial showing to accompany his announcement.


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