Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday finally put himself in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, setting up what is expected to be a bruising primary season with former president Donald Trump.
DeSantis, 44, filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday to run for president ahead of a live Twitter conversation with owner Elon Musk before his campaign releases an official launch video.
But the planned conversation early Wednesday evening encountered multiple technical issues that delayed it by more than 20 minutes as the platform kept crashing.
Musk blamed the technical difficulties on servers not having sufficient bandwidth for the hundreds of thousands of people who were tuning in.
Musk apologized: "I think we're definitely breaking new ground here. As far as I know, no major presidential candidate has ever announced their candidacy on social media this way, certainly in a Twitter Space. So, thank you for doing that."
DeSantis said he chose to announce via the social media platform because of his distrust of the media after its coverage of his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He praised Musk for purchasing the social media company.
"I think what was done with Twitter is really significant for the future of our country. We cannot have a society in which the government is colluding with major tech platforms to enforce an orthodoxy," DeSantis said.
A spokesman for DeSantis told CBS News: "There is so much enthusiasm for Governor DeSantis' vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet. Washington is next."
During the discussion, DeSantis singled out national crime rates, promoted energy independence and the rise in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"To voters who are participating in this primary process, my pledge to you is this: If you nominate me, you can set your clock to January 20, 2025, at high noon, because on the west side of the U.S. Capitol I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th president of the United States. No excuses. I will get the job done."
When DeSantis was experiencing Twitter difficulties, the former president wrote on his Truth Social post: "Wow! The DeSanctus TWITTER launch is a DISASTER! His whole campaign will be a disaster. WATCH."
President Joe Biden tweeted, "This link works" — adding a link to donate to his own reelection campaign.
DeSantis has consistently ranked second behind Trump in nationwide polls of Republicans. Trump once endorsed DeSantis for Florida governor, but expecting DeSantis to enter the primary race, he has attacked him for months.
Trump is the first choice of 53 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters in the primary, roughly doubling DeSantis' 26 percent according to a CNN poll released Wednesday conducted by SSRS.
But the survey also finds that wide swaths of Republican-aligned voters are willing to consider either of the two.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump attacked DeSantis on social media calling him disloyal for running and pointing out votes DeSantis made as a congressman in favor of resolutions that would, among other things, raise the retirement age for Social Security. DeSantis has distanced himself from that recently.
"Also, he desperately needs a personality transplant, and, to the best of my knowledge, they are not medically available yet," Trump wrote.
A March CNN survey had Trump at 40 percent and DeSantis 36 percent. When voters in the new poll were asked about a second choice, however, DeSantis got 34 percent and Trump 15 percent.
Trump was banned from Twitter after the Jan 6, 2021, insurrection by his supporters at the Capitol, and he has yet to return to the site even after Musk reinstated him last fall.
"Announcing on Twitter is perfect for Ron DeSantis," a Trump adviser told NBC News in a text message. "This way he doesn't have to interact with people and the media can't ask him any questions."
DeSantis has said that he can win the general election against Biden, 80, while Trump, 76, can't. Trump has targeted DeSantis, using personal attacks and disparaging nicknames.
Prior to officially entering the race, DeSantis had taken trips to early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
The challenge he faces other than trailing widely in polls is to convert Trump supporters without alienating them.
DeSantis represented Florida's 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2018. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, he joined the U.S. Navy in 2004, served as a legal adviser and was deployed to Iraq in 2007.