(WASHINGTON) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ novel way to kick off his 2024 presidential campaign — via a live Twitter event featuring one of the world’s most famous businessmen — was hamstrung on Wednesday night by the most ordinary of internet obstacles: spotty technology.
DeSantis had planned to begin his appearance with Twitter owner Elon Musk at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
But repeated issues and crashes delayed the start of the Twitter Spaces audio event for almost 30 minutes. At one point, it was abruptly ended and then restarted — all as Musk and others could apparently be heard discussing the issues behind the scenes.
Musk suggested during the broadcast that the problems were due to a strain on the platform’s servers and “scaling issues” because his own account was involved and has a following of 140 million users.
Once Twitter Spaces appeared to stabilize, and after being reintroduced by moderator David Sacks — who quipped that “I think we melted the internet” — DeSantis declared, “I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”
“We know our country’s going in the wrong direction. We see it with our eyes and we feel it in our bones,” he said, going on to criticize current policies at the southern border, on crime and public safety and on the cost of living for middle-class families.
President Joe Biden, DeSantis said, lacked the “vigor” to lead while letting himself be led by the “woke mob.”
The event, which is ongoing, had more than half a million people attending in the beginning and later on had about 260,000 listeners.
After DeSantis gave a brief stump speech about why he is running for president, the event segued into a moderated question-and-answer session where DeSantis has been addressing topics including COVID-19, his legal fight with Disney (ABC News’ parent company), the news media, immigration and more.
Earlier Wednesday, the Florida governor filed paperwork for his presidential campaign with the Federal Election Commission. Shortly before the Twitter event, he released a video announcing his White House bid.
He enters the race as former President Donald Trump’s biggest challenger for the Republican nomination.
Both Biden and Trump’s team quickly seized on the issues with the Twitter Spaces.
“Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate!” a Trump campaign spokesperson said in a statement.
Meanwhile, tweeting a link to a donation page, Biden’s campaign wrote on Twitter: “This link works.”
Even some DeSantis supporters said they were dismayed.
One backer, a veteran GOP strategist who asked not to be quoted by name, said that “technical glitches are not good foreshadowing” and predicted it would be labeled a “#DeSaster,” but said, “They’ll spin it that the demand was too huge. He’s too popular.”
ABC News’ Tal Axelrod and Soo Rin Kim contributed to this report.
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