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A Glitchy Campaign Launch

State of the Union: The two-horse race for the Republican nomination is officially underway.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference to
(Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Ron DeSantis's campaign launch yesterday went off with a hitch—an eight-minute-long hitch, as the Spaces platform on Elon Musk's Twitter collapsed under the weight of the 600,000-plus users who initially tuned in for the announcement. Once the technical difficulties were resolved, DeSantis opened his campaign calling for a "great American comeback," reading, and occasionally rushing, through seven minutes of scripted remarks before opening the floor for questions.

The venue and the governor's speech were a bit mismatched—the Twitter Spaces function is supposed to offer a casual and conversational platform; DeSantis's long, prepared speech was delivered with a tone that seemed both ill-suited for the platform and to give credence to claims that the governor can be robotic. The substance was there—DeSantis hit on the issues that matter to the Republican electorate, from immigration to crime and economic growth. And while it was slogan-heavy, as campaign announcements can be, saturated with bits about the "woke mind virus" and choosing "facts over fear," topically, DeSantis had his finger on the pulse of the Republican electorate.


While the scripted remarks were stilted, the question-and-answer portion of the discussion, which lasted for about an hour, went smoother for the governor. DeSantis displayed the quick wit and command that he's shown in combative interviews with reporters, and was more affable and endearing than he was when on script. Drawing from his experience as chief executive in Florida, DeSantis gave answers, particularly about bringing the administrative agencies to heel, that were credible. Culture-war themes, from transgenderism to critical race theory, were laced throughout his responses. The governor didn't offer much in the way of a substantive economic vision.

Whether the technical difficulties and awkward opening will hurt the DeSantis campaign remain to be seen. But his campaign has launched, and the two-horse race for the Republican nomination is officially underway.