Gov. Ron DeSantis to launch presidential bid with Elon Musk, NBC News reports

Announcement to come Wednesday evening on Twitter, sources tell NBC News
Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk
Posted at 2:49 PM, May 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-24 13:07:57-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will announce he is running for president during a conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk, NBC News is reporting.

DeSantis and Musk will make the announcement at 6 p.m. Wednesday on Twitter, three sources familiar with the plan told NBC News.



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The announcement will coincide with a retreat for high-end fundraisers pledged to support DeSantis at the Four Seasons hotel in Miami, according to NBC News.

DeSantis has long been perceived to be the chief challenger to former President Donald Trump in the 2024 Republican primary.



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Trump made his official campaign announcement at his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach last November.

The governor's wife, Casey DeSantis, posted on Twitter a 30-second video of her husband in front of a large American flag.

DeSantis has become one of the most polarizing leaders in state history since taking office, pushing Florida to the right by championing contentious new restrictions on COVID-19 protocols, immigration, abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, along with seeking to limit the corporate power of Disney, one of his state's most powerful business interests.

The two-term governor, who first took office in 2019 and won re-election in a landslide, recently moved his political operations to a new location in Tallahassee, outside of its previous spot at the state's Republican headquarters.

Incumbent Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, his wife Casey and their children on stage after speaking to supporters at an election night party after winning his race for reelection in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
Incumbent Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, his wife Casey and their children on stage after speaking to supporters at an election night party after winning his race for reelection in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

In addition, DeSantis recently made political stops in the critical primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The governor has made anti-LGBTQ+ legislation a large part of his messaging, restricting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through eighth grade in Florida public schools, and recently signing bills that ban gender-affirming care for minors, target drag shows, restrict discussion of personal pronouns in schools and force people to use certain bathrooms.

In one of his most controversial moves in office, DeSantis in April signed the Heartbeat Protection Act into law, which bans abortions in Florida after six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, human trafficking or to protect a mother's life.

The ban gave DeSantis a key political victory among Republican primary voters as he builds on his national brand as a conservative standard bearer.

A staunch critic of COVID-19 lockdowns, masking and vaccine requirements, DeSantis in January announced he wants to permanently ban mandates on the coronavirus vaccine and masks.

Desantis COVID-19 bill signing
Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bills to limit COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Florida during a news conference in Brandon on Nov. 18, 2021.

DeSantis said he's seeking to protect Florida from what he calls the "biomedical security state," denouncing President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their pandemic protection efforts.

The governor has also rallied his base around bans on the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, along with eliminating state and federal spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs at publicly-funded colleges in Florida.

In terms of immigration, DeSantis signed into law a contentious bill that includes more penalties for hiring undocumented migrants in Florida and more money to relocate them to other parts of the country.



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DeSantis has also battled Disney after the company opposed a state law that bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades.

Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis in April, claiming the governor and his appointees violated Disney's right to free speech, as well as the contracts clause, by taking over the special governing district that previously had been controlled by Disney supporters after Disney opposed the controversial legislation that critics call the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Karoline Leavitt, spokeswoman for Trump's "Make America Great Again" reelection campaign, issued the following statement about DeSantis' forthcoming announcement:

"This is 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. Every day more and more Americans are realizing just how out of step Ron DeSantis is with their values and how unelectable he really is.  From his votes to cut Social Security and Medicare, to his support of a national sales tax that would raise taxes on 90% of families, to his vote in support of Obama's TPP which sent jobs to China, to his vote against funding for President Trump's wall, Ron DeSantis just isn't ready to be President.  President Trump is ready on day one to turn our country around, reverse Biden's disastrous policies and make America great again."

DeSantis will join a crowded Republican contest to decide whether the party will move on from Trump in 2024 as it works to retake the White House from President Joe Biden.

Beyond Trump, those already in the GOP field include former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to announce his candidacy in the coming weeks.

DeSantis has embraced Trump's combative style and many of his policies but casts himself as a younger and more electable version of the former president.

Musk, speaking at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit event in London on Tuesday, seemed to confirm the Wednesday event, saying DeSantis would be making "quite an announcement" on Twitter.

"The first time something like this is happening on social media," he said, with live questions and answers.