Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will share the virtual stage Wednesday night with Twitter owner Elon Musk when he kicks off his Republican presidential primary campaign, a spokesperson for the governor told CNN.
The decision to make the announcement on the site’s audio platform, Twitter Spaces, in a discussion with Musk, who has a dedicated fanbase of his own, underscores DeSantis’ desire to win the loyalty of right-wing influencers as part of a larger bid to overtake former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination.
DeSantis is widely perceived as Trump’s most formidable primary challenger, but his standing has slipped – in the polls and among concerned donors – following a series of unsure performances in the buildup to his campaign launch. By going on Twitter to make the announcement, the 44-year-old Republican will seek to distinguish himself from the rest of the growing field, most of whom have made their entries in more traditional settings.
Opting to make his debut as a presidential candidate on Twitter is also a clear finger in the former president’s eye.
Before being banned from the social media platform in 2021 – before Musk’s takeover – Trump had for years used the site to lash out at perceived enemies, air assorted grievances and fuel his rising MAGA movement. Musk reinstated the former president’s account when he took over Twitter last year, but Trump had since decamped to his own social media site, Truth Social. In his absence, DeSantis appears intent on making his voice the loudest in Musk’s ear.
The announcement event, which was first reported by NBC News, will take place at 6 p.m. ET and will be moderated by tech entrepreneur and Musk ally David Sacks. CNN has reached out to Musk for comment. The tech titan publicly confirmed the event at a Wall Street Journal function Tuesday.
“I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis, and he has quite an announcement to make. And it will be the first time that something like this is happening on social media and with real-time questions and answers, unscripted,” Musk said, adding that he was not planning to endorse a candidate “at this time.”
Sacks is a major political donor and DeSantis booster. In 2021, he contributed just over $70,000 to the governor’s political committee.
Trump’s super PAC mocked DeSantis’ choice of venue for his announcement, calling it “one of the most out-of-touch campaign launches in modern history.”
“The only thing less relatable than a niche campaign launch on Twitter, is DeSantis’ after party at the uber elite Four Seasons resort in Miami,” MAGA Inc. said in a statement Tuesday.
As CNN previously reported, the DeSantis team is planning an aggressive schedule and unconventional approach to a presidential campaign. The team is plotting an unpredictable, relentless blitz of the political map designed to quickly get him in front of thousands of primary voters, stir the pot and invite contrasts between him and the campaigns of his older rivals – Trump and President Joe Biden – according to people familiar with the planning.
DeSantis is expected to file paperwork declaring his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission this week, a Republican familiar with the matter told CNN, with a formal announcement planned for next week in his Florida hometown of Dunedin.
This story and headline have been updated.
CNN’s Steve Contorno, Kristen Holmes, Donie O’Sullivan and Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.