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Ron DeSantis doubles down on rightwing agenda in glitchy Twitter campaign launch – as it happened

DeSantis officially begins presidential campaign, election filing shows

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has formally filed paperwork to start his presidential campaign, the Associated Press reports, pitting him against Donald Trump and a host of other Republicans in the competition for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024.

Polls indicate DeSantis is in second place among Republican voters, but with a wide gulf between him and the former president. DeSantis is expected to publicly launch the campaign in an appearance later today on Twitter with its billionaire owner Elon Musk.

Key events


  • Ron DeSantis announced his presidential bid in a glitchy, chaotic forum on Elon Musk’s Twitter.

  • Joe Biden commemorated the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, and called for gun control measures, one year after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school.

  • Meanwhile, in the Capitol, negotiations continue over raising the debt ceiling, with no breakthrough yet apparent.

  • Donald Trump’s lawyers have requested a meeting with attorney general Merrick Garland and aired a litany of grievances about special counsel Jack Smith and other prosecutors.

  • Texas’s Republican-dominated legislature appears to be moving to curb political power in its most-populous county, which is run by Democrats.

Biden marked Uvalde anniversary with a call for gun control

In a brief speech at the White House, the president asked: “How many more parents will live their worst nightmare before we stand up to the gun lobby?”

Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden stand in front of memorial candles for the victims of the shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in 2022.
Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden stand in front of memorial candles for the victims of the shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in 2022. Photograph: Shutterstock

He and first lady Jill Biden stood in front of 21 burning candles to honor the victims of the school shooting. “It’s time to make our voices heard, not as Democrats or as Republicans but as friends, as neighbors as parents, as fellow Americans,” he said.

The president offered his empathy to the friends and family of those who were killed. “While everyone’s pain is different, we like many of you have some understanding of what it’s like to lose a child – on more than one occasion,” he said. “They’ll never be gone from your heart, they’ll always be part of you.”

And Elon Musk’s insistence that the glitches were due to DeSantis’s popularity has not been particularly convincing.

The launch is already being panned, including by Fox News and the Daily Mail.

Musk ended by welcoming any other candidates who want to go through the same rigamarole to come through. And that’s a wrap!

DeSantis is also expected on Fox News tonight. “PROGRAMMING ALERT: Want to actually see and hear Ron DeSantis? Tune into Fox News at 8pm ET,” the network splashed on its website.

DeSantis ended by speaking about Bitcoin and ESG investments – niche topics that are likely to lose many followers.

Earlier this month, DeSantis signed a bill barring officials from investing public money to promote environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. It was one of the farthest-reaching efforts by a Republican lawmaker to stop sustainable investing efforts.

DeSantis spoke on education and immigration – two realms in which he has pushed unprecedented, authoritarian measures as governor.

On education:

“There has not been a single book banned in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis, who often repeats this lie.

According to Pen America, “In 2023, to comply with new laws, some Florida schools were directed to empty libraries and cover classroom bookshelves. Teachers in Manatee county and Duval county were told they had to have each book in their classrooms reviewed before they could go back. Martin county removed dozens of books after they were objected to by one person.”

On immigration:

“You need to shut the border down,” DeSantis said, vowing to follow though on his anti-immigrant policies and go further than Donald Trump had been able to.

As my colleague Richard Luscome has reported, DeSantis has made hardline, anti-immigrant policies a cornerstone of his gubernatorial policy.

David Sacks also asked DeSantis about Disney, which has become the Florida governor’s top foe.

Disney had “really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex in the programming for the youth”, DeSantis said. The governor’s beef with the corporation started when Disney, one of Florida’s biggest employers, publicly opposed his so-called “don’t say gay” ban. He retaliated by seizing control of Disney’s self-governing special district, and threatened to build a state prison near the area.

This odd launch to DeSantis’s campaign has partly become an advertisement for Twitter.

Musk and Sacks played off the glitches on Twitter as DeSantis “breaking the internet”. It’s unclear why Twitter didn’t anticipate 500,000 listeners for a presidential announcement.

After taking swipes at the media and the NAACP (which recently issued a travel advisory for Florida under DeSantis’s leadership), the right-wing governor talked up Twitter.

“Part of what Twitter is standing for is people should be exposed to different viewpoints,” said DeSantis, who has been working to ban viewpoints in classrooms across his state. He signed a bill that prohibits public school teachers in Florida from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity.

DeSantis also called making his Covid-era policies a ‘lonely’ time when he had to make different decisions than the rest of the country.

The governor went against public health guidance to end mask mandates early, surround himself with anti-vaccine advocates and other controversial stances. In 2021, Florida saw record-breaking surges in Covid infections, which DeSantis dismissed as “seasonal”. It was his aggressive defiance of pandemic policies that helped him rise to national prominence, as he capitalized on anti-mask and anti-vaccine fervor rising across the US.

In a new Twitter Spaces stream, this one with notably fewer listeners, Ron DeSantis has finally begun to speak, reading off prepared remarks.

“I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” he said, reiterating lines from his announcement video. “There is no substitute for victory … we must look forward, not backwards,” he said.

After Elon Musk laid off scores of employees who kept the social media platform running, glitches and errors have become somewhat commonplace on Twitter.

Ron DeSantis has yet to say a word, but amid all the feedback, Musk said, with more than 400,000 listeners on the stream: “The servers are straining somewhat.”

Joe Biden’s social media team seems to be having a bit of fun with it all:

The event is off to a glitchy start …

The audio line has bad feedback. “We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign,” said David Sacks, the Republican donor and friend of Elon Musk who is moderating the audio event.

Some have reported that their Twitter apps are crashing.

Ron DeSantis is about to make his presidential announcement on Twitter

The Florida governor is about to join Twitter owner Elon Musk in a live audio event on the site, to officially announce his bid for president.

The conversation will be streamed on Twitter Spaces, a dedicated audio streaming feature on the social media platform. Ahead of the event, DeSantis is teasing a new slogan on his campaign website: “We’ve only just begun to fight for our Great American Comeback.”


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