‘It turned out to be a mistake’: Botched rollout puts DeSantis on his heels

Source: Politico | May 24, 2023 | By Sally Goldenberg and Meridith McGraw

He portrays himself as a low-drama alternative to Donald Trump. His campaign launch was the picture of disorder.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ was a glitch.

The Florida governor announced his presidential campaign on Twitter Spaces, in an appearance meant to be a veritable launch hosted by an actual rocket man.

But within seconds, it was clear that Tallahassee had a problem.

The feed broke, connections got cut off, the hosts seemed confused. It was inauspicious. It also was a black mark on the candidate’s supposed trademarks — expert organization and a comfort with the vanguard of modern media.

“It was bold. It turned out to be a mistake,” radio host Erick Erickson emailed supporters about the mishap. “It is recoverable. But it is a reminder that some things should be under full control of the candidate, particularly the launch day.”

The risk for DeSantis is the prospect of the botched rollout forming a narrative and cutting against the very argument he is making to Republican primary voters — that he is a competent alternative to the chaotic presidency of former President Donald Trump. The governor has been portraying himself in public speeches and private donor meetings as a controlled, low-drama politician who embraces many of Trump’s policy positions without the trademark unpredictability. But on Wednesday, DeSantis — who fiercely values control — was the picture of disorder.

The governor’s team was quick to spin the moment as a sign of unprecedented enthusiasm for the 44-year-old candidate, with hundreds of thousands of Twitter users trying to tune into the event throughout the hour.

“Hi, this is Governor Ron DeSantis. I’m running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback. We announced that on Twitter spaces earlier tonight and it broke the internet because so many people were excited about being on the Twitter space,” DeSantis said in a hastily-recorded video that doubled as a fundraising pitch.

But in corners of the conservative press, including outlets pining for an alternative to Trump, there was little willingness to sidestep the face plant. The National Review’s Philip Klein called it a “disaster.”


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