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DeSantis Spent Thursday as a Punchline

As we wrote yesterday, Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) campaign launch turned into a fiasco. Twitter spaces wasn't ready for the big time, and the Governor paid the price.

DeSantis' misstep was the talk of the news media on Thursday. We don't even need to give you quotes; the headlines alone are enough:

Some of these are pretty pointed, but The Bulwark's Charlie Sykes might well have had the most cutting response of all. He led his column, headlined "A Spectacular Failure to Launch," with this image:

The explosion of the Zeppelin Hindenburg


And it wasn't just the media that read DeSantis the riot act. The Biden campaign sent out a fundraising e-mail noting that "our link actually works." The Trump campaign has been milking this for all it's worth; most notably (and weirdly) circulating a deep-fake video in which DeSantis, Musk, George Soros, World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, Dick Cheney, Adolf Hitler, Satan and an unnamed FBI agent compete for speaking time on Twitter spaces.

The memes have also been running absolutely wild. "Launch" jokes are probably the most popular, things like "Did the Elon/DeSantis launch experience a rapid unscheduled disassembly?" and "Ron DeSantis learning what happens when you launch things with Elon Musk," the latter accompanied by this image:

Exploded Musk rocket

Most of the memes were silly and somewhat juvenile, as memes tend to be, although this one was also pretty good. "To prepare for the Ron DeSantis Twitter Spaces this was the only test Elon Musk conducted:"

A Victorian-era drawing of two women trying
to converse using two tin cans and a string running between them

Which one is Musk and which one is DeSantis, do you think?

In any event, the point here is not to mock the Governor, or to take pleasure in his misfortune. We actually have more than enough material for "This Week in Schadenfreude" (see below) to need to do that. No, it's to remind readers that campaign screw-ups like this can linger for a long time, and can absolutely be fatal. Think "Jeb!," the Dean scream, Michael Dukakis in the tank, etc. And DeSantis is, like Richard Nixon, someone people are already predisposed to dislike. In 6 months, we may look back on this moment and conclude that this is where it all went off the rails.

The good news for the Governor is that his fundraising in the first 24 hours after the Twitter debacle was actually pretty solid; his campaign says it pulled in over $8 million. Also, Politico talked to Republican voters in Iowa, and found that the voters didn't care about the Twitter event, one way or another. So, DeSantis might be able to move past this. Though if he hopes to do so, he simply has to stop making unforced errors, whether it's getting too cutesy with his launch announcement, or taking on Disney, or pooh-poohing Ukraine. (Z)

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