Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to announce his 2024 presidential campaign in a Twitter Spaces event with Elon Musk on Wednesday, according to two people with knowledge of the decision.
DeSantis, who has long been seen as Donald Trump’s leading rival for the Republican nomination, will reveal his plans in an audio conversation with the owner of Twitter, according to the two people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the announcement publicly.
The 44-year-old Republican governor, who has declared a war on “woke,” liberal policies, will enter a crowded Republican presidential field as the GOP decides who to run against Democratic President Joe Biden. DeSantis has cast himself as a younger and more electable version of Trump.
In choosing Twitter, DeSantis is taking a page out of the playbook that helped turn businessman-TV celebrity Trump into a political star.
The timing of DeSantis’ long-expected announcement has been shrouded, with various iterations of plans being leaked over the past few days. Some close to him suspected that he was providing conflicting information about the timing and location to root out leakers. Others believe he changed his initial preparations after news reports came out about them.
Musk, speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit event in London on Tuesday, seemed to confirm the Wednesday event, saying DeSantis would be making “quite an announcement” on Twitter the next day. “The first time something like this is happening on social media,” he said, with live questions and answers.
He added that he is not endorsing any particular candidate at this time.
While it is common for campaigns to publicize their announcements in videos shared on social media, it is far more unusual — and perhaps unprecedented — to hold a campaign announcement in a live social media forum.
“Big if true...” DeSantis’ wife, Casey, posted Tuesday on Twitter, linking to a Fox News story on the announcement and adding a smiley face.
Earlier Tuesday, the Florida governor gave no hints of his 2024 plans during a short Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee where he discussed state business with agency heads. The media was barred from covering a subsequent bill-signing ceremony.
DeSantis has emerged as a national star in Republican politics as an unapologetic leader on controversial issues.
The governor sent dozens of immigrants from Texas — by way of Florida —to a small island off the Massachusetts coast to draw attention to the influx of Latin American immigrants trying to cross the Southern border. He signed and then expanded a Parental Rights in Education bill — known by critics as the Don’t Say Gay law — which bans instruction or classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in Florida public schools for all grades.
More recently, he signed a law banning abortions at six weeks, which is before most women realize they’re pregnant. And he removed an elected prosecutor who vowed not to charge people under Florida’s new abortion restrictions or doctors who provide gender-affirming care.
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Trump’s allies lashed out Tuesday at DeSantis’s plan.
“This is 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,” said Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for Trump’s super PAC.
In choosing to announce with Musk, DeSantis is linking his presidential announcement to one of the world’s richest men, who has emerged as a conservative cult hero of sorts.
Since buying Twitter last October, Musk has reinstated the accounts of prominent Republicans, including Trump and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had been removed. Popular conservative broadcasters have flocked to Twitter, with ousted Fox News host Tucker Carlson and the podcast hosts of The Daily Wire announcing they will start streaming on the platform.
Musk himself has promoted far-right conspiracy theories on Twitter, including misleading claims questioning a Texas mall shooter’s background and a debunked rumor that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband had a relationship with an assailant who attacked him.
Earlier this month, Musk’s tweets likening billionaire philanthropist George Soros to a Jewish supervillain were met with criticism from the Anti-Defamation League, which said they would embolden antisemitic extremists. Musk responded on Twitter clarifying his criticism of Soros and saying he would “be more thoughtful in the future.”
Twitter was once Trump’s most important megaphone — one he used to dominate his rivals in the 2016 primary and to command the news cycle for years. Trump was barred from the platform after Jan. 6, 2021. Though his access was reinstated shortly after Musk took over, he has yet to tweet.
By STEVE PEOPLES Associated Press
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Ali Swenson in New York contributed to this report.