Florida governor Ron DeSantis was set to announce his 2024 presidential campaign on a Twitter Space with Elon Musk today, but Twitter itself had other ideas.
The livestreamed group voice chat cut out quickly after going live at 3 p.m. PDT. The audio glitched in and out, at times only playing reverb noises along with some distorted speech of the hosts scrambling to determine the source of the problem. Shortly after it began, there were 580,000 listeners in the Twitter Space, which was hosted by venture capitalist and Musk ally David Sacks.
Twitter has been beset by technical issues since Musk took over last year, gutting its staff and slashing the company’s expenses.
Update: By 3:30 p.m. PDT, an alternative Twitter Space with a live Ron DeSantis was up and running, though it only attracted a fraction of the listener base that tuned in to the original announcement. In the new Twitter Space, DeSantis secured his big campaign kickoff moment, albeit to a reduced audience. “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” DeSantis said.
Sacks called the Twitter Space “probably the biggest room that has ever been assembled online.” Even at its peak, it certainly wasn’t the largest online virtual assembly on any platform — events on Fortnite and elsewhere easily dwarf the Space’s numbers — but there were quite a few listeners present for the ill-fated campaign kickoff.
Once the second stream was up, DeSantis launched into a stump speech that set a grim tone for his campaign — one that echoed former President Trump’s divisive inaugural address, right down to using the word “carnage” in reference to violence in cities like Baltimore and Chicago.
“We know our country’s going in the wrong direction — we see it with our eyes, and we feel it in our bones,” DeSantis said. “Our southern borders collapse, drugs are pouring into the country, our cities are being hollowed out by spiking crime, the federal government’s making it harder for the average family to make ends meet and to attain and maintain a middle class lifestyle, and our president, [who] lacks vigor, flounders in the face of our nation’s challenges and he takes his cues from the woke mob.”
DeSantis kicked off his campaign in friendly company with Musk. Twitter’s new owner, also prone to denouncing all things “woke,” previously said that he would support the governor in a bid for the presidency. DeSantis shunned more traditional routes — particularly Fox News — when he opted for making the announcement with Musk on Twitter. The new 2024 presidential hopeful paid the price of that decision on Wednesday, with a big moment marred by predictable technical difficulties that his followers and detractors alike probably won’t forget any time soon.