Ron DeSantis officially launches 2024 bid for US presidency

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Ron DeSantis officially launches 2024 bid for US presidency

Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has launched his White House bid in a conversation with Twitter boss Elon Musk.

The Florida governor and Mr Musk set up an interview on Twitter Spaces, a live audio discussions platform.

But the discussion, scheduled for 18:00 local time (22:00 GMT), was plagued by technical problems and audio cut out before Mr DeSantis could say a word.

Almost 20 minutes of glitches followed, before the exchange began.

“I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” Mr DeSantis said, once the sound was stabilised.

By the time the talk had begun in earnest, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users had left the platform. Since Mr Musk took the reins at Twitter in October, he has laid off thousands of employees, including engineers responsible for the site’s operations and technical troubleshooting.

Mr DeSantis’ team worked quickly to spin the technical stumbles, writing on Twitter that the announcement “broke the internet with so much excitement”, and posting a link to the campaign website. His press secretary Bryan Griffin claimed the online event raised $1m (£808,000) in an hour.

Mr DeSantis soon turned the conversation to his conservative credentials, touting his handling of the Covid-19 crisis in his state – an anti-lockdown approach applauded by many Republicans. He defended his reforms of Florida’s education system, saying his state “chose facts over fear, education over indoctrination, law and order over rioting and disorder”.

Later speaking on Fox News, Mr DeSantis outlined more specific pledges including declaring an emergency at the country’s southern border on day one in the White House. He also pledged to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, and slash President Biden’s “anti-American energy policies”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr DeSantis confirmed he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, registering with the Federal Election Commission before releasing a stylised announcement video.

“Our border is a disaster, crime infests our cities… and the president flounders,” he says in the video. “But decline is a choice, success is attainable, and freedom is worth fighting for.”

The Florida governor is viewed as former President Donald Trump’s chief rival to be their party’s candidate in the 2024 general election.

He joins a growing list of contenders seeking to unseat Mr Trump, who leads the Republican field by more than 30 points in national opinion polls.