In Shaky Start, Ron DeSantis Joins 2024 Race, Hoping to Topple Trump (2023)


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The Florida governor, Donald Trump’s strongest challenger since 2016, made an unusual and glitch-marred entrance on Twitter alongside Elon Musk. He now faces a daunting clash with Mr. Trump and his scorched-earth tactics.

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In Shaky Start, Ron DeSantis Joins 2024 Race, Hoping to Topple Trump (1)

Ron DeSantis’s long-awaited official entry into the 2024 presidential campaign went haywire at its start on Wednesday during a glitch-filled livestream over Twitter.

Despite the problems, Mr. DeSantis, the combative 44-year-old Republican governor of Florida who has championed conservative causes and thrown a yearslong flurry of punches at America’s left, provides Donald J. Trump the most formidable Republican rival he has faced since his ascent in 2016. His candidacy comes at a pivotal moment for the Republican Party, which must choose between aligning once more behind Mr. Trump — who lost in 2020 and continues to rage falsely about a stolen election — or uniting around a new challenger to take on President Biden.

But on Wednesday, Mr. DeSantis’s official run for the White House got off to an embarrassing start as the planned livestream with Twitter’s eccentric billionaire owner, Elon Musk, was marred by technical problems and dead air. The audio cut in and out amid talk of “melting the servers,” hot mic whispering and on-the-spot troubleshooting.

When, after more than 25 minutes, Mr. DeSantis finally spoke, he declared, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”

The extended social media hiccup — as more than 500,000 people were waiting — was gleefully cheered on the very platform Mr. DeSantis was supposed to be commandeering for his campaign. Donald Trump Jr. wrote a single word: “#DeSaster.” Mr. Biden posted a donation button to his re-election campaign with the words, “This link works.” The audience when Mr. DeSantis did deliver his remarks was smaller than it had been during the initial minutes when no one was speaking.

Despite his inauspicious start on Wednesday and having slipped well behind Mr. Trump in polls in recent months, Mr. DeSantis retains a host of strengths: a mountain of cash, a robust campaign operation and a series of conservative policy victories in Florida after a landslide re-election triumph last fall. The governor, who rose to national prominence with his restriction-averse handling of the coronavirus pandemic, argues that his “Florida Blueprint” can be a model for reshaping the United States in a starkly conservative mold, especially on social issues.

“American decline is not inevitable,” Mr. DeSantis said. “It is a choice. And we should choose a new direction, a path that will lead to American revitalization.” He accused Mr. Biden of taking “his cues from the woke mob.”

Mr. DeSantis did not mention Mr. Trump by name. But he did sketch out some of the contrasts he is expected to sharpen in the coming months. “We must look forward, not backwards,” he said on the Twitter Space livestream. “We need the courage to lead and we must have the strength to win.”

The DeSantis campaign had invited prominent donors to Miami on Wednesday for a fund-raising event, hosting them at a conference space at the Four Seasons as the Twitter discussion was projected onto a large screen. Then they waited. And waited.

“Elon’s got to staff up a little more to boost that server capacity,” said Brandon Rosner, a donor from Milwaukee. He was not discouraged. “Once we got through the original glitch there, I think people were very excited,” he said.

(Video) Media HILARIOUSLY GOES INSANE Over Ron DeSantis 2024 Announcement, Trump ROASTS DeSantis As SWAMPY

Mr. DeSantis is confronting the daunting endeavor of toppling a former president whose belligerence and loyal base of support have discouraged most leading Republicans from making frontal attacks against him. Mr. Trump, who has a mounting list of legal troubles, clearly sees Mr. DeSantis as a political threat and has unloaded on him for months, mocking him as “Ron DeSanctimonious” and slamming his stewardship of Florida.

“Trump is not as invincible as he once seemed and DeSantis is a serious contender,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican strategist. “There are Republican voters looking for someone who can move beyond Trump, someone who can fight the liberals but also win elections. That’s the space DeSantis is trying to inhabit.”

Mr. DeSantis’s chances of capturing the nomination may depend on whether the Republican primary becomes a crowded, Trump-dominated food fight — something similar to what unfolded in 2016 — or if he can turn the contest into a two-man race. The Republican field has slowly ballooned, with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina announcing a bid this week and Vice President Mike Pence expected to join soon.

To winnow the field back down, Mr. DeSantis is likely to need strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states, with anti-Trump voters coalescing around him. His advisers and allies see a victory in socially conservative Iowa as a must, and believe he needs to follow with at least a close second-place finish in more moderate New Hampshire.

Mr. DeSantis has the financial ammunition to compete: He is likely to start with more money in an outside group than any Republican primary candidate in history. He has more than $80 million expected to be transferred from his state account to his super PAC, which says it has also raised $40 million, in addition to having tens of millions more in donor commitments, according to people familiar with the fund-raising.

A key focus of the primary, and the general election should Mr. DeSantis make it that far, will be his record as governor. He and a pliant Florida Legislature have passed contentious laws that have excited the right and angered many Democrats, including Black and L.G.B.T.Q. people, students and abortion-rights supporters in Florida. The bills seem to reflect Mr. DeSantis’s plan to run to the right of Mr. Trump in the primary, which could leave him vulnerable with moderates and independents.

In the most recent legislative session alone, Florida Republicans banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy; expanded the use of the death penalty; allowed Floridians to carry concealed guns without a permit; restricted gender-transition care for minors; limited teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation; defunded diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public colleges; and shielded records of his own scrutinized travel from the public.

Mr. DeSantis has also shown a willingness to use executive power in ways little seen before in Tallahassee, the state capital, leading some Democrats and civil rights leaders to worry that he shares Mr. Trump’s strongman style but has a greater ability to carry out that vision.

He has picked a long-running fight with Disney, one of Florida’s largest employers and a canny political adversary. He removed a local prosecutor from office in what records show was a decision motivated by politics, installed his allies at a public liberal arts university in a bid to transform it into a bastion of conservative thought, said he would reject a high school Advanced Placement course on African American studies for “indoctrinating” students and had state law enforcement officers monitor holiday drag shows for lewd behavior.

While his stump speech focuses on a lengthy recounting of those and other conservative policy achievements, Mr. DeSantis is expected to start talking more about his biography, with help from his wife, Casey DeSantis, a former television journalist who plays an influential role in his office and decision-making.

Raised in Dunedin, a suburb of Tampa, Mr. DeSantis grew up in a working-class home. He excelled at baseball, captaining the squad at Yale University as a hard-hitting outfielder.

He later enrolled at Harvard Law School, then served in the Navy as a military lawyer, deploying to Guantánamo Bay and Iraq. He worked as a federal prosecutor in Florida before winning election to Congress in 2012. He was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of anti-establishment conservatives.

After three terms in Washington, he ran for Florida’s open governorship, winning the Republican primary largely thanks to an endorsement from Mr. Trump. But they fell out when Mr. DeSantis began making noises about running for president in 2024.

The pandemic turned Mr. DeSantis into a Fox News fixture. He has criticized social distancing measures, masks and vaccines — tools fitfully employed by the Trump administration — and has already hinted that he will contrast his actions in Florida with Mr. Trump’s approach. In particular, Mr. DeSantis has gone after Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who led the nation’s pandemic response.

But the step-up from a statewide campaign, even one as successful as Mr. DeSantis’s nearly 20-percentage-point romp, to a presidential campaign is not easy. As the initial Twitter Space floundered on Wednesday, Mr. Musk was forced to post a new link, severely reducing the audience for Mr. DeSantis’s announcement.

(Video) Can DeSantis Beat Trump? National Review’s Rich Lowry Weighs In | Amanpour and Company

While more than 500,000 people tuned in to the first Twitter Space, the second one had only 163,000 listeners by the time Mr. Musk and the technology entrepreneur David Sacks began interviewing the governor. The conversation quickly turned into a surprisingly dry discussion about the overreach of federal agencies, the merits of Twitter and occasionally bizarre tangents like the license plate number of Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who has endorsed Mr. DeSantis and joined the online conversation.

Mr. DeSantis’s campaign tried to put a positive spin on the technical mishaps, writing on Twitter: “It seems we broke the internet with so much excitement.” An aide announced they had raised $1 million in an hour. All the while, Mr. Trump’s team rejoiced. “This is criminal for a campaign,” said Chris LaCivita, a senior adviser to the former president.

Mr. DeSantis had waited months to declare his candidacy, citing a need for Florida’s Legislature to first complete its session in early May. The delay allowed Mr. Trump to test out attacks on Mr. DeSantis and secure the endorsement of numerous members of Congress, including several from Florida.

As Mr. DeSantis ramped up his presidential preparations this year with a book tour and a trip abroad, he has seemed to struggle at points.

Awkward moments — including cringeworthy facial expressions — generated negative headlines. So did some poorly calculated policy pronouncements, particularly his declaration that defending Ukraine from the Russian invasion was not a vital U.S. interest. Some major donors who once saw him as the most suitable Trump challenger backed away.

At the heart of the criticism is the perception that Mr. DeSantis, a supreme believer in his own abilities, can seem aloof and quick to anger. Even his allies acknowledge he is not the backslapping, baby-kissing type — concerns he has tried to address by spending more time greeting voters and taking selfies.

“He is an introvert in an extrovert’s job,” said Alex Andrade, a Republican state representative from the Florida Panhandle who says he admires the governor’s reserved and analytical approach.

In recent weeks, Mr. DeSantis has seemed to recover from his wobbles, hitting back with more force against Mr. Trump. He has criticized the former president for not endorsing Florida’s six-week abortion ban and has described a “culture of losing” overtaking the Republican Party under Mr. Trump. He also told donors in a private call that Mr. Trump could not beat Mr. Biden.

In the Twitter event, Mr. DeSantis took some sideswipes at the former president, a onetime reality television star, at one point saying, “Government is not entertainment. It’s not about building a brand or virtue-signaling.”

As they wrapped up the hourlong conversation, which meandered from Article 2 of the Constitution to Bitcoin, Mr. DeSantis said, “We should do it again. I mean, I think it was fun.”

Mr. Sacks concurred. “It’s not how you start,” he added, “it’s how you finish.”

Jonathan Swan and Alyce McFadden contributed reporting.

Nicholas Nehamas is a campaign reporter, focusing on the emerging candidacy of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. Before joining The Times in 2023, he worked for nine years at The Miami Herald, mainly as an investigative reporter. @NickNehamas

Shane Goldmacher is a national political reporter and was previously the chief political correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times, he worked at Politico, where he covered national Republican politics and the 2016 presidential campaign. @ShaneGoldmacher

(Video) Ron DeSantis launches 2024 presidential bid, IRS whistleblower speaks out, more | CBS News Mornings

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(Video) Donald Trump Election Speech | Donald Trump Vows To Crush Biden In 2024 Elections | U.S. News Live


Who is favored to win 2024 presidential election? ›

Top 5 Candidates, 2024 US Presidential Election
1️⃣ Joe Biden+15040.0%
2️⃣ Donald Trump+25028.6%
3️⃣ Ron DeSantis+45018.2% ↑
4️⃣ Robert F. Kennedy Jr.+18005.3% ↑
5️⃣ Kamala Harris+33002.9% ↓
2 more rows
4 days ago

What did DeSantis do before becoming governor? ›

Ronald Dion DeSantis (/dəˈsæntɪs/ or /diːsæntɪs/; born September 14, 1978) is an American politician serving as the 46th governor of Florida since 2019. A member of the Republican Party, DeSantis represented Florida's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018.

Who is Florida's new governor? ›

Governor DeSantis Signs 27 Bills


Can a president win the popular vote yet not win the election? ›

In the history of presidential elections in United States, presidents have often come to power without winning the popular vote.

How many popular votes are needed to win the presidency? ›

A candidate needs the vote of at least 270 electors—more than half of all electors—to win the presidential election. In most cases, a projected winner is announced on election night in November after you vote.

Is DeSantis Italian or Spanish? ›

DeSantis or De Santis is an Italian surname.

Is Ron DeSantis a millionaire? ›

Net Worth. DeSantis' net worth is currently around $320,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His assets include a $134,181 governor's salary, $235,000 in a USAA account and $105,755 in a thrift savings plan, a government retirement and investment plan, according to FCE data.

What are 2 facts about Governor Ron DeSantis? ›

His service included a stint at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, site of a notable detention facility. DeSantis was also deployed to Iraq, and while there he was a legal adviser to a Navy SEAL commander. His commendations included a Bronze Star for meritorious service.

How many terms can a governor serve in Florida? ›

How long does the Governor serve and can he or she serve more than one term? The governor holds the office for four years and can choose to run for reelection. The Governor is not eligible to serve more than eight years in any twelve-year period. Was this article helpful?

Who is next in line after a governor in Florida? ›

§ 147-11.1. Succession to office of Governor; Acting Governor. (1) The Lieutenant Governor-elect shall become Governor upon the failure of the Governor-elect to qualify. The Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of the Governor.

Who becomes governor in Florida if the governor resigns? ›

The Florida Constitution allows the lieutenant governor to serve as the acting governor if the governor leaves the state or has a disability. If the governor dies, resigns or is impeached and removed from office, the lieutenant governor is next in line to take over.

What state has voted Republican the most? ›

However, it is important to note that Washington D.C. (while not a state) has 3 electoral votes and 76% of residents identify as Democrats, while 6% identify as Republicans. Wyoming was the most Republican state, with 59% of residents identifying as Republican, and only 25% of residents identifying as Democratic.

Which party has won more elections? ›

Of the 30 U.S. presidential elections that have been held between 1904 and 2020, the Republican Party nominee has won 15 and the Democratic Party nominee has won 15.

What would happen if the Electoral College was abolished? ›

If the Electoral College was eliminated, the power to elect the President would rest solely in the hands of a few of our largest states and cities, greatly diminishing the voice of smaller populated states.

What is the least amount of states a President needs to win? ›

Each State delegation has one vote and it is up to the individual States to determine how to vote. (Since the District of Columbia is not a State, it has no State delegation in the House and cannot vote). A candidate must receive at least 26 votes (a majority of the States) to be elected.

How many times can a President win the election? ›

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.

How many times can you run for President if you lose? ›

The Twenty-second Amendment (Amendment XXII) to the United States Constitution limits the number of times a person is eligible for election to the office of President of the United States to two, and sets additional eligibility conditions for presidents who succeed to the unexpired terms of their predecessors.

What is the net worth of Ron DeSantis? ›

Net Worth. DeSantis' net worth is currently around $320,000, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His assets include a $134,181 governor's salary, $235,000 in a USAA account and $105,755 in a thrift savings plan, a government retirement and investment plan, according to FCE data.

What nationality is DeSantis ancestors? ›

A Florida-based genealogist traced DeSantis' family tree from Italy to America. His great-great-grandmother just made it in.

Does Florida have a Spanish name? ›

In the beginning, Florida was named Pascua Florida by explorer Ponce de Leon on Easter in 1513. This expression means “Flowery Easter” or “Flowering Easter” due to Spain's Easter celebration.

How much does the governor of Florida earn? ›

In Florida, the salary of the governor stood at $134,181 as of 2021, the 19th lowest among the 50 states.

What car does Ron DeSantis drive? ›

Ron DeSantis Car Collection

Ron DeSantis has recently bought a brand-new Lexus GX at a price of $41,000 USD.

How many millionaires are there in the state of Florida? ›

There are 383,290 millionaires living in Florida, meaning it ranks fourth in the nation. But per capita, the outlook isn't as bright in the Sunshine State.

What powers does the governor of Florida have? ›

The Governor is the supreme executive power in the state. Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution provides that “he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, commission all officers of the state and counties, and transact all necessary business with the officers of government.”

Who is second in command of Florida governor? ›

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez plans to step in as needed while Gov. Ron DeSantis steps away for White House run. Florida's second in command says she'll likely take on more responsibilities in the coming months now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has entered the race for the White House in 2024. TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

Where does DeSantis live? ›

The Florida Governor's Mansion (also called The People's House of Florida) is a historic U.S. residence in Tallahassee, Florida and the official residence of the governor of Florida.

Who is the longest serving governor in US history? ›

List of longest-serving governors of U.S. states
#GovernorTime in office
1Terry Branstad8,169 days
2George Clinton7,635 days
3George Wallace5,848 days
4Jerry Brown5,847 days
74 more rows

What state has no term limits for governor? ›

Gubernatorial term limits

Uniquely, Virginia prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms, although former governors are eligible to serve again as governor after a specified period (currently, four years) out of office.

How many terms can a senator serve? ›

Section-by-Section Analysis Section 1 This is the operative section that limits congressional terms to two terms in the Senate and to six terms in the House of Representatives.

What is the line of succession in Florida? ›

Florida Intestate Succession

There must be a valid marriage to be a surviving spouse. If there are no children, the spouse gets everything. Next in line are the children. If a child dies before the parent, then a grandchild may inherit a portion of the estate.

Can you be governor and president at the same time? ›

II, Sec. 1, cl. 7). However, the Constitution places no restrictions that would prevent state or local office holders from simultaneously holding office in any branch of the federal government.

What is the order of succession after governor? ›

From there, the president of the senate is charged with the duties of governor, followed by the state speaker of the house. This is generally the same process for the 44 other states with lieutenant governors, who must be able to fill in should the governor resign, be removed from office or pass away.

Who replaces a governor if he steps down? ›

In most cases, the lieutenant governor is the highest officer of state after the governor, standing in for that officer when they are absent from the state or temporarily incapacitated. In the event a governor dies, resigns or is removed from office, the lieutenant governor typically becomes governor.

Can the governor of Florida remove a mayor? ›

(5) If the municipal official is convicted of any of the charges contained in the indictment or information by reason of which he or she was suspended under the provisions of this section, the Governor shall remove such municipal official from office.

Who becomes governor if the office becomes vacant? ›

Under California's Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor serves as Acting Governor whenever the Governor is absent from the state, and automatically becomes Governor if a vacancy occurs in the Office of Governor. The Lieutenant Governor is also President of the Senate and votes in case of a tie.

Who was the youngest president? ›

The youngest person to become U.S. president was Theodore Roosevelt, who, at age 42, succeeded to the office after the assassination of William McKinley. The youngest at the time of his election to the office was John F. Kennedy, at age 43.

What is the best way to decide who wins a presidential election? ›

A candidate must receive 270 of the 538 electoral votes to become President or Vice President. If a candidate for President fails to receive 270 votes, the House itself will choose the President from among the three individuals who received the most electoral votes.

What are the 5 requirements to be president? ›

Constitutional requirements for presidential candidates
  • Be a natural-born citizen of the United States.
  • Be at least 35 years old.
  • Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
Apr 6, 2023

Who decides who wins presidency? ›

The Electoral College decides who will be elected president and vice president of the U.S. Learn who is involved and how the process works.

Who is the oldest president in the world currently? ›

The oldest national leader is Paul Biya of Cameroon, who was born in 1933 and took office more than 40 years ago. Biya is the only current national leader in his 90s.

Which president had 15 children? ›

John Tyler was the most prolific of all American President: he had 15 children and two wives. In 1813, Tyler married Letitia Christian, the daughter of a Virginia planter. They had eight children.

How old was the youngest president when he died? ›

John F. Kennedy, assassinated at the age of 46 years, 177 days, was the nation's shortest-lived president; the youngest to have died by natural causes was James K. Polk, who died of cholera at the age of 53 years, 225 days.

Why did the founders create the Electoral College? ›

The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution, in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

What was the closest presidential election? ›

Bush/Al Gore (2000) The 2000 presidential election was one of the most contentious in American history and one of the closest—just days before the election, pollsters said it was too close to call. Vote tallying was marred by inconsistencies, particularly in Florida, where Al Gore demanded a recount.

What is the least amount of states you need to win the election? ›

Each State delegation has one vote and it is up to the individual States to determine how to vote. (Since the District of Columbia is not a State, it has no State delegation in the House and cannot vote). A candidate must receive at least 26 votes (a majority of the States) to be elected.

Who is the only president not to be married? ›

Tall, stately, stiffly formal in the high stock he wore around his jowls, James Buchanan was the only President who never married. Presiding over a rapidly dividing Nation, Buchanan grasped inadequately the political realities of the time.

What are the three rules to be president? ›

The Constitution lists only three qualifications for the Presidency — the President must be at least 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

How many US presidents have had no political experience? ›

5 presidents had never been elected to public office before becoming president: Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Donald Trump. Most of these had, however, been appointed to several prominent offices.

Can a president become a vice president? ›

No, a former president cannot become vice president.

Two laws prevent this from happening. The 22nd amendment to the Constitution states that a president cannot serve for longer than two terms. The 12th amendment states that an individual cannot run for the vice presidency if they are not eligible to be president.

What is the 12th Amendment in the Constitution? ›

Constitutional Amendments – Amendment 12 – “Electing the President and Vice President” Amendment Twelve to the Constitution was ratified on June 15, 1804. It revises and outlines the procedure of how Presidents and Vice Presidents are elected, specifically so that they are elected together.


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