MIAMI—”It’s not how you start, it’s how you end.”
Those are the words Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will have to live by after the epic launch of his campaign for the White House in 2024.
Announced on Twitter Spaces, a new and little-known part of the social media platform, the launch was initially marred by an epic fail that hosts Elon Musk and his friend David Sacks, a DeSantis donor, laughed nervously at. they suggested that we “melted”. The Internet.”
Fifteen minutes later, when the errors were ironed out, it turned into an epic tirade filled with grievances from the right: about COVID-19, about “the awakened mob,” about illegal immigration, and the ills of traditional media.
Billed as “the first in the history of social media,” it was true to Twitter form: a bitter, insular, partisan display. Less of an open conversation than a group of like-minded people bellowing into each other’s echo chamber.
Musk, the billionaire businessman who reportedly voted for President Joe Biden but criticized pandemic health restrictions and other progressive causes, was in his element as a co-host.
His main interest seemed to be the promotion of his company, which was cash-strapped and heavily criticized. While he touted his own contribution to the culture wars and generally seemed sympathetic to his guest, he managed to stay just above the event’s partisan fray and extended an invitation to any politician of any stripe who wanted to follow in DeSantis’s shaky footsteps. . .
But for DeSantis, who had a great opportunity to introduce himself to the country and make a first impression on voters that he will need to win, it seemed like a hit and miss.
The baseball terminology is intentional.
Before he was the great Republican hope for those who can’t imagine the return of Donald Trump, DeSantis was a hard-working kid with an all-American pedigree.
He played in the Little League World Series as a child, earned a baseball scholarship to Yale, and then studied law at Harvard.
He served in the navy, spent time in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. He married a former television reporter at Disney World and the couple have three children.
But all of this faded to the background Wednesday to DeSantis’ political persona as a culture warrior, someone who claimed to “instinctively know what normal people think” and vowed to fight the “awakened mind virus.” who went crazy in the United States.
Some of this rhetoric seems to be inescapable in the country at the moment.
The United States is financing and supplying most of Ukraine’s effort to defend itself against invaders from Russia. Democrats and Republicans are locked in negotiations over the country’s debt ceiling which, if not resolved, could send the United States and the world into a financial tailspin. He’s already in a match of Chinese geopolitical checkers.
But leading the news in this country is Target’s decision to remove some items from its LGBTQ+ Pride clothing collection from stores, in response to threats and criticism.
The retailer’s decision follows controversy over a Bud Light beer commercial that features a transgender female influencer. dylan mulvaney which sparked a boycott. Adidas could be next, with a ad for a Pride swimsuit worn by a transgender model drawing the ire of the American right.
And DeSantis has been at the forefront of this fight in Florida, where he has signed laws to prevent transgender women from playing on women’s sports teams, to prevent them from using women’s bathrooms, or to ban the use of preferred pronouns in schools.
He has placed restrictions on the teaching of sex education and black history.
At the same time, he has relaxed gun laws and lowered the legal threshold for sentencing criminals to death.
It has been said of DeSantis that his goal is to “Make America Florida.”
It’s a nod to the man DeSantis will have to wrest the Republican nomination from, his compatriot Trump from Florida, who has been vowing to return America to its fabled former glory since he was first elected in 2016.
DeSantis’s argument to Republican voters who might be weighing him against Trump is that he is capable of pulling off the victory that eluded Trump in 2020.
Trump himself clings to the falsehood that the presidency was built on fraudulent results and so he was robbed.
While many other Republicans share that view, DeSantis clearly called it a loss, something that draws a line in the Republican arena.
“There is no substitute for victory. We must end the culture of losing that has infected the Republican Party in recent years,” he said.
“If you nominate me, you can set your watch for January 5, 2025, at noon because, on the west side of the United States Capitol, I will be sworn in as the 47th President of the United States. There are no excuses. I’ll do the job.”
But more than just winning, DeSantis is drawing on his record in Florida to indicate that he is ready, even eager, to go much further and sow more division than even Trump could have anticipated in his wildest days in the White House.
After months of playing coy about his presidential ambitions, dodging questions about his plans, DeSantis is finally being crystal clear about what “Make America Florida” could mean.
“When you try new things…it’s adventurous,” Musk said.
He was referring to his online pulpit malfunctioning, but he could just as easily have been referring to DeSantis’ speech to voters, who must now decide whether what the Florida governor is offering is a promise or a threat.
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