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Here’s how Elon Musk became a Ron DeSantis supporter

Musk will join DeSantis as Florida’s governor announces his presidential bid on Twitter Spaces. Here’s how to tune in.
 
Tesla and Twitter owner Elon Musk, left, is expected to join Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the governor announces a long-expected presidential campaign on May 24 on Twitter Spaces.
Tesla and Twitter owner Elon Musk, left, is expected to join Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the governor announces a long-expected presidential campaign on May 24 on Twitter Spaces. [ Associated Press ]
Published May 24, 2023

A day after voting Republican for the first time ever, in a special congressional election held last June 14 in Texas, Elon Musk was asked on Twitter if he’d picked a horse for president in 2024.

“DeSantis,” Musk responded.

Asked about a fellow tech entrepreneur, Andrew Yang, who ran as a Democrat in 2020, Musk replied: “I supported Yang last time, but DeSantis has a better chance of winning.”

Less than a year later, Musk’s support of Gov. Ron DeSantis has hit new heights. DeSantis will reportedly announce a long-awaited bid for the presidency alongside Musk during a live Twitter Spaces event Wednesday night.

The choice of venue reflects how the South African mogul’s personal politics have shaped Twitter since he purchased the social network for $44 billion last fall. It’s also the clearest sign yet of a burgeoning relationship between the onetime richest man on earth and the man seen as former President Donald Trump’s chief competition for the Republican nomination.

Last July, Musk tweeted that Trump should “hang up his hat & sail into the sunset,” leaving DeSantis a clear path to the White House.

“Trump would be 82 at end of term, which is too old to be chief executive of anything, let alone the United States of America,” Musk tweeted. “If DeSantis runs against Biden in 2024, then DeSantis will easily win — he doesn’t even need to campaign.”

In November, Musk tweeted that he hoped the next president would be “someone sensible and centrist.” Asked if he would support DeSantis, he replied that he would.

Musk has spoken positively about Florida’s business climate. SpaceX has a sizeable workforce on the Space Coast, with rocket manufacturing and launching facilities in Cocoa and Cape Canaveral. In 2021, he said he’d spoken to DeSantis about alleviating traffic around Miami through the use of tunnels built by his Boring Co. And last year, in the wake of Hurricane Ian, the state worked with SpaceX to deliver internet service to hard-hit areas via the company’s Starlink satellites.

Shortly after Musk made his bid to buy Twitter, Florida leaders including Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry openly pitched him on relocating the company’s headquarters to the Sunshine State. At the time, DeSantis said that while he was “supportive” of Musk’s bid, “importing some tech company from San Francisco has not been high on our list.”

But in an interview this spring with conservative commentator Benny Johnson, he said he would be more open to it.

“Basically what I would tell him is, OK, if you’re going to move Twitter to Florida, are you bringing ‘woke’ employees to Florida, or are you bringing your people?” DeSantis said. “If it’s just his people, then it may be good.”

DeSantis said he agreed with Musk that Twitter, like other Silicon Valley companies, had become an “intellectual cocoon” where “woke ideology infuses everything.”

“Over the last many years, they’ve been exporting that ideology via these social platforms all the way around the world, and it’s really, I think, infected politics, culture in a very negative way,” DeSantis said. “So I really applaud him for taking on Twitter, trying to moor it back towards facts and truth, and stop to always parrot the ideology and trying to censor beliefs that conflict with it.”

DeSantis is a regular user of the phrase “woke mind virus” when describing what he sees as left-leaning cultural groupthink and pressure. The person generally credited with popularizing, if not coining, that phrase: Elon Musk.

As for Musk’s endorsement last summer, DeSantis hasn’t said much. Asked about it at the time, he said he was more focused on 2022, deflecting the question with a joke.

“I welcome support from African Americans; what can I say?” he said.

How to tune in

DeSantis’ announcement event with Elon Musk is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Twitter Spaces, a public audio forum. You don’t need a Twitter account to tune in via your phone, tablet or browser, by using the Twitter app or visiting twitter.com. A link won’t be available until the event starts, but users can look on Twitter’s trending page or search for @elonmusk or @rondesantis.