Ron DeSantis’ disastrous start to his campaign came on an unlikely platform – Twitter.
One wonders if DeSantis wants to have a do-over regarding his unorthodox choice for the opening event.
The announcement of a race for president is the first chance to make a great impression. The Florida governor failed in this regard with an event on Twitter that would have made anyone furious about its execution.
There were gaps and glitches throughout and the amateuristic opening has many observers wondering if DeSantis is ready for the big stage.
Ron DeSantis and the Big Launch: What On Earth Happened?
The event was replete with technical difficulties. Ron DeSantis was supposed to have a flawless conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk and tech entrepreneur David Sacks on “Twitter Spaces.” The talk was delayed due to many users tuning in at once. The mobile app quit and the audio was off. Twitter users erupted with the hashtag “#DeSaster” running wild on the platform.
The Sharp Knives Come Out
“DeSantis is making JEB! look high energy right now,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.
Congressman Lance Gooden of Texas tweeted, “Ron DeSantis: crashing poll numbers and crashing Twitter spaces.”
Trump aficionado Steve Bannon said it was a “clown show” and “historic screwup.”
Don’t Believe the Hype
I listened to the address and it didn’t sound right. The tenor of the governor’s voice was different. He didn’t sound like himself. To DeSantis’ credit, he did have an extended conversation about policies that he wished to bring from Florida to the entire United States. His campaign announced that he raised a million dollars after the event. But the whole thing must be seen as a failure for a candidate that had built up so much hype about his run.
Get Back to Basics
Why didn’t Ron DeSantis simply hold a traditional in-person rally?
He could have used a large venue and showed how many people support his campaign after his landslide re-election victory in 2022. There was little to be gained and much to lose by choosing to start his campaign on Twitter. This makes DeSantis look like he cannot master technology and that he is not ready to lead a 21st Century economy that is swiftly changing due to artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, and the quest for control of microchips.
DeSantis is already down in the polls with Trump. He could make a comeback as it is early in the campaign. But he will need an excellent performance in the first Republican debate in August in Milwaukee to live this disaster down.
There is no room for error as Trump is ready to pounce at any more mistakes. Ron DeSantis is already the focus of a whisper campaign that says he is not adept at retail politics. He is not a natural at back slapping and kissing babies – metaphors for politicians who excel during one-on-one encounters. The early nomination states of Iowa and New Hampshire require candidates to sell their message at homes and small venues such as restaurants, barber shops, and bowling allies.
People in Iowa and New Hampshire want to meet the candidates in person more than once before deciding who to support. DeSantis will have to show that he can be natural, cordial, funny, and entertaining – a man of the people – before he builds up his base in the early states. He also needs a ground game machine to get out the vote, something the governor is just now starting to build.
One event does not make a campaign. DeSantis will likely recover but hardcore politicos will not forget his disastrous first day and the governor must regain the trust of the political class before he shifts his attention to ordinary voters. He hopes that people will forget his cold open.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.