Ron DeSantis is to announce his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in a livestreamed Twitter chat with the platform’s billionaire owner Elon Musk, touting his ultraconservative record as governor of Florida as a blueprint for the United States.
DeSantis will make the announcement during the Twitter Spaces event on Wednesday, and will file a document with the Federal Election Commission declaring his candidacy at the same time, his political team said.
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Musk confirmed the plan during a conference hosted by the Wall Street Journal.
“I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis, and he has quite an announcement to make,” Musk confirmed on Tuesday, promising the 6pm (22:00 GMT) event would be unscripted, with “real-time questions and answers”.
“It’s going to be live. Let it rip,” Musk told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council conference, saying that he was not endorsing DeSantis and wanted the platform to be “somewhat of a town square”.
DeSantis was re-elected to a second term as Florida governor in November and his impassioned battles over pandemic lockdowns and divisive cultural issues have endeared him to conservatives. His rising profile among Republicans and fundraising prowess are likely to make him the biggest threat to former President Donald Trump’s bid to become the Republican nominee for the White House again.
The two men were close allies during Trump’s four years in the White House – Trump endorsed him during his first campaign for governor – but DeSantis has since forged his own political identity. At 44, he may represent the future of the party more than the 76-year-old Trump does.
“Announcing on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis. This way, he doesn’t have to interact with people and the media can’t ask him any questions,” said a Trump adviser who asked not to be identified.
Long viewed as the most viable challenger to twice-impeached Trump, DeSantis is better known than most of the hopefuls in the race for the Republican nomination – but still lacks the frontrunner’s national profile.
During the coronavirus pandemic, DeSantis became the national face of resistance to mask and vaccine mandates and has been a fierce critic of Dr Anthony Fauci, who headed the government’s COVID-19 response during the Trump and Biden administrations.
Trump was banned from Twitter after the 2021 assault on the US Capitol by his supporters, and has not returned since being reinstated in November.
He has been attacking DeSantis almost daily on his record, character and fitness for office but responded to Wednesday’s announcement with relative restraint – simply posting favourable polling on his own online platform, Truth Social.