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Launch glitches aside, DeSantis aims to make generational change centerpiece of White House bid

As the battle for Republican presidential nominee heats up, the Right grows ever eager to learn the future of their party.

Published: May 24, 2023 11:11pm

Updated: May 25, 2023 6:26am

Ron DeSantis officially launched his campaign for president Wednesday night, in a highly anticipated move marred by technical glitches on Twitter. The early bumps aside, Florida governor is poised to make generational change a centerpiece of his White House bid.

“The tired dogmas of the past are inadequate for a vibrant future. We must look forward, not backwards,” he declared.

DeSantis announced his campaign on Elon Musk’s Twitter, which conservative commentator Guy Benson described as a calculated move showcasing his campaign as culture war-oriented.

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“It's a base signal,” Benson wrote in a Townhall analysis, explaining how the Right is “livid with Big Tech” and views Musk as a free speech “champion” for taking an influential platform away from the Left.

Benson's analysis is debatable, but DeSantis has clearly used his fights in culture wars – including those over COVID masks and transgender-ism – to burnish his political brand. 

Musk himself appeared to understand this, calling DeSantis’ Twitter Space announcement a “smart move” and arguing that any candidate who announces on Twitter will get the highest possible audience because of the platform's growing popularity.


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The Twitter launch didn’t go as expected as the session was interrupted by significant technical problems. But the effort nonetheless signaled DeSantis’ aspiration to move the GOP beyond the Baby Boomer generation that has dominated its politics for decades. 

Investment firm owner and GOP mega-donor Hal Lambert in endorsing DeSantis told Fox News that it’s "time for the Republican Party to move on to the next generation" of leaders.

And such media outlets as New York Magazine have called DeSantis’ age his "secret weapon" that fans as well as critics have under-appreciated.

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Even Time Magazine recognized DeSantis’ apparent strategy with Twitter, writing that the mode of announcement was his way of “putting America on notice that he’s running” to do “precisely the opposite” of what Americans have grown accustomed to from politicians.

“DeSantis is choosing as divisive an Opening Day as one can imagine but may be the absolutely perfect microcosm for the campaign to come," the Time story reads.

"At least he’s being honest with America about his playbook,” which the story argues is him being “ready to fight anyone about anything, so long as it helps him look like a bigger troublemaker than" former President Trump, the presumptive GOP primary frontrunner. 

Unlike Trump and generations of U.S. presidential candidates before him, DeSantis also eschews the traditional big arena or outdoor rally complete with bands, red, white and blue streamers, and other Americana that more middle-aged and older voters tend to enjoy.

Trump is widely regarded as the figure who engineered the split from the GOP of decades past to a new breed of Republican leadership – a.k.a “the new Right” or MAGA. Such a philosophy is one DeSantis has strictly mirrored during his tenure as Florida’s governor. 

Trump has already laid down a gauntlet, arguing his experience is his advantage over the younger DeSantis and betting voters will prefer the MAGA original over his understudy. Thus far, the approach has worked as Trump has soared to a commanding lead in the early polls before DeSantis announced.

Tapping into his culture war stamina, DeSantis said that he would end the right’s "culture of losing" by rejecting the "woke mind virus" promulgated by corporations. And he vowed, if elected, to “clean out” public health agencies over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. 

At age 44, DeSantis is 32 years younger than Trump and 36 years younger than the Democrat incumbent President Joe Biden.

Follow Addison on Twitter.

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