Republican Ron DeSantis to launch White House bid with Elon Musk on Twitter

Republican Ron DeSantis to launch White House bid with Elon Musk on Twitter

Ron DeSantis is to announce his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in a livestreamed Twitter chat with the platform's billionaire owner Elon Musk on Wednesday, touting his ultra-conservative record as governor of Florida as a blueprint for the nation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will announce he is running for president during a discussion with Twitter CEO Elon Musk, three sources familiar with the plans told NBC News.

Musk and DeSantis will host an event on Twitter Spaces, the site’s platform for audio chats, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET. It will be moderated by David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is a Musk confidant and DeSantis supporter. 

The relationship could be a significant boost for DeSantis by giving him an introduction to, and credibility with, Musk’s massive following — including his 140 million Twitter followers. But it could prove a burden should DeSantis become distracted by the tycoon’s many controversial comments.

The launch will closely tie together the billionaire tech mogul with one of the Republican Party’s rising stars. Musk has been an admirer of DeSantis, who also regularly chides corporate media. Last year, Musk said he would support the governor if he were to run for president. 

The announcement will coincide with a retreat for high-end fundraisers pledged to support DeSantis in Miami. Bundlers will gather at the Four Seasons hotel from May 24-26, receiving briefings from campaign staff, combined with time to call around to raise money for the campaign. 

The DeSantis team has been in talks with Musk for at least the last few weeks, according to a source familiar with the discussions. In those conversations, the source said, Musk has indicated he doesn’t think former President Donald Trump can win back the White House. 

“He’s interested in the future, and he’s interested in winning again,” the person said.

During the Wall Street Journal’s 2023 CEO Summit Council on Tuesday, Musk confirmed his participation in DeSantis' announcement but said he was not going to be formally endorsing DeSantis at that time.

“I think it’s quite groundbreaking that there be a major announcement of this type on social media,” he said, adding that he was “not going to endorse any particular candidate” for president quite yet.

A source said, however, that within DeSantis’ team, Musk's participation is viewed as a clear sign of support for the governor.

Yet Musk is nothing if not unpredictable, and on Friday, he tweeted praise of an ad by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., one of DeSantis’ rivals for the GOP nomination. 

NBC News did not receive a response for comment from Musk, Sacks or the DeSantis campaign for this piece.

Even if Musk stops short of a full endorsement of DeSantis, aligning with his presidential announcement puts him and the company more squarely into a presidential election than any other tech company before it. Twitter, Facebook and others have launched election hubs and voter registration efforts, but have kept candidates at arm’s length.