After problems launching Twitter, DeSantis plans to shut down the traditional campaign

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After problems launching Twitter, DeSantis plans to shut down the traditional campaign

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plunged into his first full day of the presidential campaign Thursday after his blistering Twitter launch the night before, holding a series of interviews with friendly conservative commentators and announcing a series of in-person events in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina next week.

For Mr. DeSantis, the immediate challenge appeared to be getting past a rough opening and appealing to a mainstream Republican audience after a Twitter spat with billionaire Elon Musk that often veered from online right-wing grievances and away from the issues voters say they care about for most, like the economy.

Acknowledging that a “very small percentage” of GOP primary voters were on Twitter, Mr. DeSantis defended his decision to announce his campaign on the social media platform.

“We felt there was going to be a lot of noise about it,” he told conservative radio host Eric Erickson on Thursday afternoon. “And I think that was probably the biggest story in the world yesterday. And so we’re hoping to get some people interested in our campaign who might not have been otherwise.”

Mr. DeSantis also sought to draw attention to his looming clash with former President Donald J. Trump, whose loyal supporters are one of the biggest obstacles to the governor’s bid. As he began his media blitz, Mr. DeSantis took a series of jabs at Mr. Trump, noting how often the former president attacked him.

“I think a lot of what he’s doing is showing everybody that he understands that I have a good chance to beat him because now he’s not criticizing anybody,” Mr. DeSantis told a New Hampshire radio station. “It’s just me.”

Mr. Trump’s team “wouldn’t do this if they didn’t think I had a chance,” added Mr. DeSantis, who argued that he had a better chance of winning independent voters.

At the same time, Mr. DeSantis suggested on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show” that, if elected, he might consider pardoning Mr. Trump if he faces federal charges — along with many others, including defendants charged in connection with the January 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol.

“On Day 1, I’m going to have people come together and look at all these cases, which people are victims of weaponization or political targeting, and we’re going to be aggressive in issuing pardons,” he said in response to a question about Yang. 6 pardons, but also cited other cases that he argued constituted “weaponizing” federal law enforcement.

“Some of these cases, some people may have a technical violation of the law, but if there are three other people who did the same thing, but only in a context like BLM, and they don’t get prosecuted at all, that’s uneven administration of justice,” he added he, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement. “And so we’re going to find ways where that hasn’t happened and then we’re going to use the pardon power.”

Asked directly whether his review might include Mr. Trump himself, Mr. DeSantis said: “I would say that any example of adverse treatment based on policy or weaponry will be included in this review, no matter how small or how is large.”

The governor had avoided mentioning Mr. Trump during his rollout on Wednesday, a delayed live event on Twitter Spaces with Mr. Musk, the platform’s owner, that was plagued by technical problems, causing downtime and an intermittently hot microphone.

One of the people listening to the message on Twitter was Mr Trump himself – at least for a while.

“I tried for the first half hour,” Mr. Trump said in an interview as he teed off on the seventh tee at his golf course outside Washington. “After that, everyone just turned it off.”

Mr Trump blasted the deployment, calling it a “disaster” and saying: “I don’t know if it can recover.”

“He is very disloyal, but he has no personality,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. DeSantis. “And if you don’t have a personality, politics is a very difficult business.”

Next up for Mr. DeSantis is a return to more traditional campaigning, with stops planned in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the top three nominating states, from May 30 to June 2. The campaign bills this four-day run in 12 cities and towns as the first leg of his “Great American Comeback Tour.”

Mr. DeSantis will begin his first in-person campaign event in Des Moines on Tuesday. He will stay in Iowa on Wednesday before traveling to New Hampshire on Thursday and South Carolina on Friday.

“Our campaign is committed to taking the time to win these early-nominated states,” Jenera Peck, Mr. DeSantis’ campaign manager, said in a statement.

The presidential primary campaign, especially early on, is usually a catch-and-smile affair.

How Mr. DeSantis interacts with people during the trip will be closely watched. He had some awkward moments while meeting voters on the trail, which led to jeers from Mr. Trump and other detractors.

Mr. DeSantis is expected to need a win in Iowa and at least a close second in New Hampshire to show he can effectively challenge the former president, especially as other candidates potentially sensing a political bid jump in. the competition.

On Thursday night, Mr. DeSantis is scheduled to attend a reception with major donors at a Miami hotel as his team ramps up its fundraising efforts. Despite the Twitter mishap, his campaign said it raised more than $1 million online in its first hour Wednesday night.

Mr. DeSantis’ team had gathered the donors in a conference room at the Four Seasons Miami, in the city’s financial district, to listen to Twitter Space.

According to two attendees, it didn’t go well at first. The hotel’s audiovisual system was just as unsuccessful as the live broadcast, leaving donors scrambling to listen to their phones as they sipped drinks at the bar and chatted among themselves. But the general mood was one of excitement, the people said.

On Thursday, top members of Mr. DeSantis’ campaign staff told donors that they thought the evening was a success, even if it didn’t quite go according to their original script. The campaign has signaled it wants to move fast, take risks and confound its doubters.

Still, the decision to make the announcement on Twitter, a platform Mr. DeSantis said Thursday he did not use — and to talk more about things like diversity programs at public universities than, say, inflation — confused many Republicans.

“He was appealing to 0.2 percent of likely Republican voters with that kind of statement,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Republican pollster. “His strategy is in a different dimension than anything I’ve understood in the past.”

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