Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will announce that he will run 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 7 pm ET. It will be run by David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is a Musk confidant and DeSantis supporter.
That night, the campaign will release a launch video, and DeSantis will begin visiting several early states after Memorial Day.
The relationship could be a significant boost for DeSantis by giving him an introduction to, and credibility with, Musk’s large following — including his 140 million Twitter followers. But it could prove to be a burden if DeSantis gets distracted by the tycoon’s more controversial comments.
The launch will closely unite the billionaire tech mogul with one of the Republican Party’s rising stars. Musk is an admirer of DeSantis, who also often mocks the corporate media. Last year, Musk said he will support the governor if he runs for president.
The announcement coincides with a retreat for high-end fundraisers who have pledged to support DeSantis in Miami. Bundlers will gather at the Four Seasons hotel from May 24-26, receive briefings from campaign staff, along with time to call around to raise money for the campaign.
DeSantis’ team has been in talks with Musk for at least the past few weeks, according to a source familiar with the discussions. In the conversations, the source said, Musk indicated that he did not think that former President Donald Trump would win back the White House.
“He’s interested in the future, and he’s interested in winning again,” the person said.
It was unclear whether Musk would formally endorse DeSantis on Wednesday, but another source said that within DeSantis’ team, his participation was seen as a clear sign of the governor’s support. .
Yet Musk is nothing if not predictable, and on Friday, he tweeted praising an ad by Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., is 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, the alignment of his presidential announcement puts him and the company more at odds in a presidential election than any other tech company on the left. it’s still Twitter, Facebook and others have launched election hubs and voter registration efforts, but kept candidates at arm’s length.
And someone of Musk’s stature participating in the launch of DeSantis’ presidency has prevented Trump’s inevitability and power.
DeSantis’ relationship with Musk dates back to early 2021, when the two met at a dinner party in Austin, Texas, with about 15 people including tech investors, developers and industry officials. on health care, according to a GOP fundraiser who was at the meeting.
The two also have a relationship through Sacks, a major Republican donor who has openly supported DeSantis and is considered part of the Inner circle of musk on decisions about Twitter.
Musk carved out a fierce following after he bought Twitter with a promise to restore “free speech” after years of complaints from the right that the site tried to censor conservatives. Among his first steps was to restore the accounts of previous right-wing Twitter users who had been suspended for spreading disinformation. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who remains one of the most prominent figures in conservative media despite being fired from Fox News, is launched a new show on Twitter.
That seems to be part of what makes the partnership with Musk so attractive to DeSantis. One of the sources familiar with the plans told NBC News that DeSantis’ aides see Twitter becoming a friendlier space for conservative firebrands under Musk’s leadership, allowing them to speak directly to their conservative audience and to bypass the traditional media – something that was once Trump’s. superior power.
Trump was banned from Twitter after the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising of his supporters at the Capitol, and he has not returned to the site even though Musk reinstated him last fall.
“I hope the campaign will paint a positive vision for the country, and the whole launch will emphasize the future versus the past, success versus failure, winning versus losing and action versus talk. That’s the frame in the race,” a source familiar with the plan said.
The plan is not without risk. Musk’s international star power could serve as an edge over DeSantis, who — while a heavyweight in Republican political circles — is less well-known. And DeSantis may not want to answer for all of Musk’s positions — which could be down to individual tweets — like his comments about progressive megadonor George Soros earning the ire of Jewish leaders.
A source familiar with the plans said the DeSantis group isn’t worried about being upstaged, arguing that the governor is fine without the spotlight on himself.
But an added risk for DeSantis is that while Musk has plenty of muscle to put behind DeSantis — and has fans in the former president’s base — Trump has made a political career out of portraying himself as an underdog fighting powerful forces within his party, on the Democratic side of the aisle, and in government and industry. Musk — and by extension, DeSantis — could be framed as the latest corporate titan to align against Trump’s movement.
In the coming weeks, Musk will step down as CEO of Twitter. He just announced that he has hired Linda Yaccarino, the former head of ad sales for NBCUniversal, will take over as Twitter’s next CEO. Musk said he will still be in charge of product design and new technology, while Yaccarino will be in charge of the business side.