Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday sought to push past an embarrassing beginning to his presidential campaign, outlining an aggressive travel schedule as his allies insisted they remain well funded and well positioned for a long Republican Primary fight ahead.
While DeSantis supporters privately acknowledged the bungled announcement was an unwelcome distraction, there was a broad sense — even among some Republican critics — that it would likely have limited long-term political consequences, if any at all.
“Do they wish they could do it over again? Probably,” said David Oman, who managed two top-tier presidential campaigns in Iowa. “Will we be talking about it in 10 days? Probably not.”
DeSantis formally launched his campaign Wednesday night during an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. But the audio stream crashed repeatedly, making it difficult for most users to hear the announcement in real time.
On Thursday, the Republican Governor announced plans for a three-state blitz next week featuring at least a dozen stops. He’s scheduled to campaign Tuesday and Wednesday in Iowa before a trip to New Hampshire on Thursday and South Carolina on Friday.
“We are laser-focused on taking Gov. DeSantis’ forward-thinking message for restoring America to every potential voter in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” campaign manager Generra Peck said. “Our campaign is committed to putting in the time to win these early nominating states. No one will work harder than Gov. DeSantis to share his vision with the country — he has only begun to fight.”
DeSantis is casting himself as the only legitimate Republican rival in the GOP’s crowded Primary to former President Donald Trump, who holds a big lead in early polls along with a firm grip on a significant portion of the GOP’s passionate base.
Yet Trump is plagued by his own baggage, which includes multiple legal threats and a fixation on his 2020 election loss.
Meanwhile, DeSantis’ team opens the campaign with tens of millions of dollars in the bank. A spokesman said the campaign raised $1 million in the first hour after Wednesday’s announcement, but declined to provide an updated total Thursday. An adviser to DeSantis’ allied super PAC said the group begins with $33 million in the bank and 30 full-time paid staff already in place across the first four states on the presidential Primary calendar, with many more hires already planned for the subsequent 14 states to hold Primary contests.
No other Republican presidential candidate has such an infrastructure in place, including Trump. His aides declined to say how many staff he has in early states. “The only numbers we’ll talk about are the huge leads President Trump is racking up in the early states,” said spokesman Steven Cheung.
But as DeSantis tried to project confidence Thursday, the two-term Governor faced nagging questions about his rocky rollout during a conservative media tour.
“I was just kind of sitting in Tallahassee, like I didn’t really know what was going on because Twitter handles all of that,” DeSantis told conservative commentator Glenn Beck. “They were just getting so many people, above and beyond what they ever gotten, that I think it kind of melted the servers.”
While Trump’s team piled on with gleeful mocking — “a #DeSaster of epic proportions,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Truth Social — many Republican officials, donors and early state activists suggested there would be few long-term consequences.
“Look, I like Elon Musk, but apparently he fired one too many IT guys,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a 2024 Republican presidential prospect himself and a periodic DeSantis critic, said on ABC’s “The View.” “You can’t blame Ron DeSantis for that.”
“I mean, if Elon Musk told me, ‘We’re going to stream it,’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah, this guy knows what he’s doing.’ It didn’t work,” Sununu added. “Ron’s job was to deliver the speech and make the points. I think he did a pretty good job of that.”
Republican strategist Terry Sullivan, who managed Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, suggested that DeSantis is well positioned to overcome an early stumble.
“Big presidential campaign announcements are only about getting a short-term bounce (in the polls) and raising money online,” Sullivan said. “DeSantis doesn’t need either of those. He just needed to get in the race and start campaigning. Mission accomplished.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis was balancing his presidential ambitions with his day job.
On his first full day as an announced presidential candidate, the Florida Governor signed bills to give Florida residents tax breaks. They ranged from sales tax holidays on hurricane and school supplies to permanent exemptions for baby and toddler needs like diapers. He also approved a one-year tax exemption on gas stoves — a direct shot at Democrats who have raised health concerns about the appliances.
Much of the buzz beyond Florida remained focused on the bungled announcement.
Former New Hampshire GOP Chair Jennifer Horn described DeSantis’ rollout as an “embarrassing missed opportunity.” The only potential longer-term challenge, she said, was that it serves as “a gift to Donald Trump,” who will almost certainly ensure that it’s not quickly forgotten.
There remained “a high level of interest” in DeSantis, according to New Hampshire Republican Party Chair Chris Ager. He said multiple Republican Party groups are requesting DeSantis to speak at their events.
“I think it was a pretty bold move to try something totally new in an announcement,” Ager said.
And while early polls show Trump with a wide lead over DeSantis among New Hampshire Primary voters, Ager said a lot can change over time.
“I fully expect the race will tighten up,” he said. “Gov. DeSantis is definitely a serious and legitimate contender for the top spot.”
Republican donor and vocal Trump critic Eric Levine said there was little chatter in the donor community about DeSantis’ stumble out of the gate. He said the Florida Governor remains one of his top three candidates.
“Nobody’s leaving him because of it. Whether or not he’s lost a couple of people that might have jumped on the bandwagon had it been better, I don’t know,” Levine said. “Now, it’s a marathon from now until Iowa.”
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.
Dont Say FLA
May 25, 2023 at 7:08 pm
It’s all Twitter’s fault!!! True, except for Rhonda’s decision to use the imploding Twitter platform for his campaign laugh. Anybody could have seen it coming, and I did. I called it before it happened. Any fool would have known Twitter was going to break. For God’s sake, I knew it. That right there is proof that ANY fool knew what was going to happen.
May 25, 2023 at 7:17 pm
Yes Sir E Bob, Mission Accomplished, just like Dubya and Iraq. Rhonda is currently training on ducking shoes thrown at his face. This will be brutal for Rhonda considering he does not have much room to duck and his knees no longer work right either.
He has the 'Tism, you guys.
May 25, 2023 at 10:25 pm
Ron DeSantis is on the spectrum. It’s pretty obvious.
Dont Say FLA
May 26, 2023 at 9:09 am
Shhhhh don’t tell. If people realize that, it makes him less unlikable. We don’t really want Rhonda as our first openly autistic-ish President do we? I would much prefer Corky.
May 26, 2023 at 11:59 am
Our homie with an extra chromie as they say. I was thinking more idiot savant (emphasis on idiot) but you might be right.
May 25, 2023 at 11:55 pm
Everybody hates Rob
May 26, 2023 at 4:50 am
Christina Pushaw, a top adviser to Ron DeSantis, argued with a 16-year-old Trump supporter about botox and Ukraine on Twitter just one day after the Florida governor launched his campaign for the presidency.
The argument started on Thursday after “GOP Josh” — a 16-year-old supporter of former President Donald Trump — asked Pushaw, “How much of the $1M DeStablishment raised yesterday will go towards your Botox?”
“Does your mom know what you are doing on the internet,” Pushaw shot back, prompting GOP Josh to take several digs at Pushaw’s alleged cosmetic work.
After GOP Josh accused Pushaw of being a “Ukraine simp,” citing her previous work for former Georgia President and Ukrainian governor Mikheil Saakashvili, Pushaw carried on arguing with her 16-year-old foe.
“He’s literally a child LOL,” she tweeted. “I thank God Twitter wasn’t a thing when I was his age. I might have embarrassed myself the same way. Look he has plenty of time to grow up and learn something, and I wish him well.”
Pushaw didn’t stop there, however, adding in another tweet that she hoped her interlocutor would learn the “most important lesson” of “humility.”
Her decision to spend her time on Twitter arguing with a minor just one day after DeSantis’ campaign launch puzzled some social media users.
Christine Pushaw, Russian Spy
May 26, 2023 at 5:00 am
Suspension from Twitter
Pushaw was suspended by Twitter following her “tweeting” in 2021 concerning an Associated Press report. Pushaw recommended that followers “drag them” and as DeSantis’ press secretary, said she would put the A.P. reporter “on blast.” The A.P. said Pushaw had made “a direct effort to activate an online mob to attack a journalist.” Pushaw said she believed she had not incited the violent threats made to the A.P. which followed her tweet.
Registration as a foreign agent
In June 2022, Pushaw retroactively registered as a foreign agent per the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), after the United States Department of Justice contacted her. She hired former United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael R. Sherwin, to represent her for the FARA registration. She was paid $25,000 over the course of two years for her work and lived rent-free, for six weeks, in a Tbilisi apartment owned by a Saakashvili associate. In a November 2018 interview for Georgia Today, Pushaw claimed she was “not paid by anyone” for her support of Saakashvili. According to her FARA filing, she received her first cash payment from Saakashvili in late October 2018. Her filing described her arrangement with Saakashvili as “unwritten and informal”.
May 26, 2023 at 7:08 am
The parent behind Amanda Gorman’s poem ban in a Florida school appears to have attended Proud Boys rallies and has previously posted antisemitic memes online.
The parent, first identified by the Miami Herald as Daily Salinas, made headlines this week after reports emerged of her effort to ban a series of books at the elementary Bob Graham education center in Miami Lakes where her two children attend.
Dont Say FLA
May 27, 2023 at 8:59 am
She with Moms for Libery too, just like that dead-eyed botox lady running to replace Randy Fine.
May 26, 2023 at 12:19 pm
It is sad that the media wants to focus on Twitter having a glitch rather than the substance of Desantis’ announcement. It is part of the terrible double standard in media where nothing can be done correctly by a Republican and nothing can be done wrong by a Democrat.
Dont Say FLA
May 27, 2023 at 8:58 am
The focus is on how Rhonda decided to go with Twitter due to “Elon Musk.” Period. Rhonda totally ignored the well-known fact that Twitter has been throwing nothing but gutter balls since Sir Musk took control.
The campaign laugh disaster was another incidence of Rhonda putting his personal feels over the good of his campaign, just like he does with State of Florida, its residents, its taxpayers, its laws, and just like he would if he somehow became President of USA.
Dont Say FLA
May 27, 2023 at 8:53 am
Report: ‘massive’ Tesla leak reveals data breaches, thousands of safety complaints. Whistleblower files reveal customer and employee information plus complaints about driver assistance system.
And remember, you kinda heard it here first a few days ago when I predicted Tesla crashes to infinity and beyond starting with the next Tesla update.
That’s not what happened, at least not yet, but Tesla employee(s) revolting against the dipstick duo on Ron Y Lon, I saw that coming a mile away (unlike a Tesla car’s ability to see a big truck making a wide right turn).
Anyone paying attention can easily see where Ron y Lon are going: into the dumpster fire of their own making.