Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should have been at the peak of his political game on Wednesday night when he announced his 2024 presidential campaign.
Instead, the Republican candidate’s rollout on Twitter Spaces fell somewhere between a debacle and a disaster.
The launch didn’t go well, to put it mildly. The “Twitter Spaces” app repeatedly failed, leaving would-be listeners who were unfamiliar with the technology wondering if the event had begun. Musk and his co-host David Sacks could be heard on the stream for a moment or two before disappearing again.
It took about half an hour before the conversation began in earnest, and by then, the launch flop had been lifted into the pantheon of political legend.
Fox News labeled it “AMATEUR HOUR: Much-hyped Ron DeSantis presidential announcement a disaster on Twitter.”
“Twitter Launch Debacle for DeSantis,” wrote Breitbart News.
Asked if the Twitter snafu hurt DeSantis, Pennsylvania-based Republican strategist and writer Guy Ciarrocchi said: “I don’t think so at all because, at the end of the day, this race is going to be about his message and his record and the other candidates and their messages.”
The demand to be on the Twitter feed was “overwhelming,” Ciarrocchi said.
“The fact that he tried to do something different on Twitter instead of the traditional speech in front of a courthouse building was neat,” Ciarrocchi added. “What really matters is his message. Nobody is going to decide who to vote for for president because the audio cracked during his announcement. They’re going to be far more concerned about what he said.”
DeSantis was “calm, focused, and funny. You didn’t hear any frustration or anger. It’s somebody that’s been around. It’s also somebody who’s a dad and knows things happen.”
DeSantis’s opponents obviously don’t agree. Former President Donald Trump launched a barrage of mocking attacks on DeSantis over the snafu. His son, Don Jr., gave it the label “De-Saster,” which promptly began trending on Twitter.
Democrats joined in the fun as well. “This link works,” tweeted the Biden-Harris campaign with a click-through to its donations page.
But DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin tried to spin it into a win.
“There was so much enthusiasm for Gov. DeSantis’ vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet,” Griffin said. “Washington is next.”
Jeff Jubelirer, vice president at Philadelphia’s Bellevue Communications Group, said that while DeSantis’s announcement stumbled, “I do not believe it hurts his chances.”
However, “I question why he chose this unorthodox method when he could have generated thousands of more views by declaring in prime time on a national TV outlet such as FOX or CNN,” Jubelirer said.
“In my opinion, he and his team made an unforced error by risking it with Elon and the untested Twitter Spaces,” he added. “As a result, the announcement stories focused as much – if not more – on the technical disaster rather than in some instances his candidacy and its viability.”
Charlie Gerow, a Republican consultant with Quantum Communications in Harrisburg, does not believe the flubbed Twitter event hurts DeSantis.
“Obviously, you’d prefer not to have the glitches,” he said. “But that said, he had 20 million people tuned in, and today it’s the number one story across the country.”
Christopher Nicholas at Eagle Consulting Group also said the clumsy launch will likely not cause DeSantis’s campaign to falter.
“The DeSantis balky launch will fade away shortly, as long as they don’t repeat that problem,” he said.