‘A missed opportunity’: Florida Republicans weigh in on DeSantis launch with disappointment, optimism

Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his highly anticipated presidential bid on Twitter Wednesday evening via a video and conversation with Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces, which was delayed due to technical difficulties. 
  • While one Florida operative believes DeSantis’ rollout was a “missed opportunity,” another told the DCNF it was “successful” overall.
  • “Think of Trump in 2016 when he used the golden escalator for God’s sakes,” Ben Torpey, Republican political consultant out of Florida, told the DCNF. “This is just kind of like the Twitter flop.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ glitchy presidential campaign announcement prompted disappointment among some Republicans Wednesday, but others insisted his launch was still a success.

DeSantis made his highly anticipated campaign announcement on Twitter via a campaign video and a discussion with Elon Musk after being delayed with technical difficulties. While one Florida operative told the Daily Caller News Foundation DeSantis’ rollout was a “missed opportunity,” another said it was “successful” overall.

“I do think it was a missed opportunity to really do something spectacular and kind of just, you know, burst onto the scene,” Ben Torpey, a Republican political consultant from Florida, told the DCNF. “[He could’ve made] this launch a huge, huge deal, and really blow it out of the water, and I just think it was a missed opportunity in the end.”

Torpey didn’t think it was a “good move” for DeSantis to make his presidential announcement on Twitter, and criticized the launch for being delayed, having audio only and lacking video, he told the DCNF. Despite the obstacles, Torpey doesn’t think the rocky launch will hurt him in the primaries, and believes it could be just a “blip on the radar.”

“I was disappointed,” said Torpey. “It really kind of sucks for the campaign. I like DeSantis, and I wanted him to do a lot better.”

DeSantis’ campaign attributed the glitches to the massive amount of users tuning in, with more than 700,000 listenersvying to get on the Twitter Spaces link according to campaign manager Generra Peck. Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, touted the $1 million raised in the hour following DeSantis’ announcement.

“There was so much enthusiasm for Governor DeSantis’ vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet. Washington is next,” Griffin wrote on Twitter.

The Florida consultant, who said the DeSantis team response to the glitch was “a pretty good spin on it,” believes the strategy behind taking to Twitter was likely to reach younger voters, take a shot at former President Donald Trump, who isn’t on the platform, and to give the “middle finger to the mainstream media” by bypassing traditional outlets, he told the DCNF.

Torpey compared DeSantis’ jump into the race with Trump’s initial campaign launch for the 2016 election.

“Think of Trump in 2016 when he used the golden escalator for God’s sakes,” Torpey said. “This is just kind of like the Twitter flop.”

Torpey said DeSantis might see a small “spike” in the polls following his announcement, but isn’t sure by how much or how long it would last, because “it’s almost like he’s been running for a while.”

Jaime Miller, former executive director of the Florida Republican Party, believes that while the glitches on Twitter hindered his campaign launch, his ability to overcome that challenge showed the strength of his candidacy, and the amount of listeners tuning in proved it was still “successful,” he told the DCNF.

“I felt like his initial announcement was strong, and especially after the 20 or 25 minute [delay], which had to be monumentally frustrating for a candidate,” said Miller. “For him to then deliver his announcement … with the power and confidence in which he did, I thought was very good.”

Miller said there are many candidates who would have “melted down” in a situation like this, and despite the glitches, DeSantis was able to turn a “disaster” into a “fairly successful night.”

“Good campaigns and good candidates are capable of being flexible and maneuvering in those moments, when things happen outside of their control. I was impressed. I was impressed that he did not seem to be wavered by by the glitch.”

Doing the “unconventional” announcement on Twitter showed “bravery” from the DeSantis campaign, as there were so many variables that could have, and did, go wrong, said Miller. The former Florida GOP executive said the move indicated that he’s a different kind of candidate, from a younger generation, and he was likely trying to appeal to a younger electorate; Miller said it was “very smart” to use this new forum by keeping the “mainstream” media “at arm’s length.”

“He performed admirably,” said Miller. “He exceeded my expectations of what I thought I was gonna hear from him.”

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