Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may have a rich and powerful supporter in his expected presidential campaign: Twitter owner Elon Musk.
Or, he might not.
Despite reports that Musk would back DeSantis in 2024, the delivery of the message gives pause: Musk announced (if you can call it that) his DeSantis support vaguely with a one-word tweet. Asked by a user if he would support DeSantis for president, Musk responded: “Yes.”
This is not the same thing as Musk announcing his preferred candidate—as the New York Post quickly interpreted the tweet. I suppose it is an indication of where Musk is headed politically. But we’ve had ample evidence of that for some time.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 26, 2022
Musk’s approving tweet about DeSantis came in a thread about his political leanings shifting from Democrats to Republicans.
“I was a significant supporter of the Obama-Biden presidency and (reluctantly) voted for Biden over Trump,” Musk shared over Twitter. “My preference for the 2024 presidency is someone sensible and centrist. I had hoped that would [be] the case for the Biden administration, but have been disappointed so far.”
The day before the midterm elections, Musk asked his millions of followers on Twitter to support Republicans, arguing that Congress and the president should be held by different parties.
To independent-minded voters:
Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
But back in May, Musk had explained that he planned to vote Republican in the midterms because Democrats had been mean to him recently.
I support free speech, but not any one candidate. In fact, I gave money to & voted for Hillary & then voted for Biden.
However, given unprovoked attacks by leading Democrats against me & a very cold shoulder to Tesla & SpaceX, I intend to vote Republican in November.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 30, 2022
Musk’s rightward shift means he is likely to back a Republican in 2024, or perhaps many, even changing his mind frequently. But Musk’s greatest gift to Republicans so far is his desire to roll back the site’s content moderation in the name of freedom of speech.
According to the Washington Post, the first five days of Musk’s ownership were marked by a resurgence of QAnon conspiracy activity and election disinformation that circulated without warning labels that Twitter used to apply to such content.
When it comes to whether or not Musk actually will support DeSantis, it’s probably best to consider the source. Most things you see on Twitter should be double-checked. We’ll have to see if Musk does actually follow through.