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Elon Musk Has a Plan to Make Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Popular

It looks like the 1998 movie “Saving Private Ryan,” directed by Steven Spielberg.

The hero in the film, Capt. John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, leads a group of soldiers in France during World War II on a particularly dangerous mission: to find and bring back Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon) safely. Ryan’s three brothers had been killed in action in the span of three days. 

This film, considered a masterpiece, is credited with rekindling public interest in World War II at the turn of the last century. 

Unlike the film, the mission here is to save Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign, which is in turmoil before it has launched. Elon Musk, the whimsical and influential serial entrepreneur, is Capt. Miller.

Perceived as former President Donald Trump’s most serious rival for the Republican nomination for president, DeSantis, 44, has been creating problems for himself. 

The governor has taken nationally unpopular positions in recent months, such as banning abortion after six weeks and restricting how race and gender are taught in schools. He is also engaged in an intense feud with Walt Disney  (DIS) – Get Free Report, one of his state’s largest employers, which he blames for supporting gay rights. 

The feud particularly worries business circles, who question both his culture war and his vision of capitalism.

DeSantis Will Announce Presidential Bid in an Interview With Musk

Billionaires Steve Schwarzman, co-founder and chief executive of private-equity titan Blackstone  (BX) – Get Free Report, and Thomas Peterffy, chairman of Interactive Brokers  (IBKR) – Get Free Report, have decided to withhold their support within the GOP field. 

Peterffy even went so far as to say that he and his friends were going to pause their financial support for DeSantis. The reason given was that they disagree with his “extreme positions on social issues.”

The likely candidate may have multiple appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire, among the first states with primary votes, but he remains clearly behind Trump, who is leading in all the polls. Aside from the issues, pundits point out, DeSantis isn’t very comfortable engaging with the public. 

To help him get back into the race, DeSantis turned to Musk, who since October has become one of the new heroes of the conservatives. Having bought Twitter, Musk decided to transform the microblogging platform into a bastion of free speech, which means that everything can be said there as long as it does not violate the law.

The billionaire will host DeSantis on Wednesday, May 24, live on Twitter Spaces, an audio conversation set for 6 p.m. U.S. Eastern. Musk announced the plan on May 23 during his virtual appearance at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit.

“I will be interviewing Ron DeSantis and he has quite an announcement to make,” Musk said. “It will be the very first time that something like this is happening on social media, and with real time questions and answers, not scripted.”

The Florida governor is expected to announce his presidential bid, and the campaign will release a launch video at the same time. 

The billionaire, who indicated on Nov. 25 that he would vote for DeSantis in the 2024 presidential election, will reintroduce the governor to voters during their conversation, which will be moderated by David Sacks, a tech-investor friend of Musk.

Musk Is Giving DeSantis a Fresh Start

The entrepreneur, who has more than 140 million Twitter followers, will no doubt try to show that DeSantis is an advocate for the Average Joe, someone approachable and down to earth, his own man, a maverick.

But he also will present the governor as someone who fights and stands ready to defeat the so-called woke mind virus — the progressive policies that DeSantis denounces that the billionaire himself has declared an enemy of civilization. 

DeSantis thus becomes the champion of defending traditional values and fighting the woke. The mission is to show that the governor is a guy as comfortable in jeans as he is in a suit, a diverse image that Musk has cultivated for himself. 

In addition, Twitter was once the platform that contributed to Trump’s popularity. Launching DeSantis’ presidential campaign there also sends the message that a new generation is leveraging that power. 

It’s fascinating symbolism to see the world’s most popular and influential CEO associated with someone who seeks the world’s most powerful job.

Musk, who also said last year that he would vote Republican in the midterm elections after voting for Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, takes on the responsibility of a kingmaker. 

The billionaire has promised to contribute $20 million to $25 million to support the candidate of his choice during the 2024 presidential campaign. He, however, assured the WSJ Council that he would not take sides during the Republican nomination.

“I’m not at this time going to endorse any particular candidate, but I am interested in X/Twitter being somewhat of a public town square,” the tech mogul said during the Tuesday summit. 

He added that Twitter aims to be “a place where all voices are heard and where there’s the kind of dynamic interaction that you don’t really see anywhere else.”

In fact, this is the first time that the billionaire has agreed to put his platform so much at the service of a presidential hopeful. He certainly showed interest in Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), who is also a candidate, but he did not interview him live on his social network.

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