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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to announce his GOP presidential bid on Twitter

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put out a video showing him about to go on stage.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Tonight, he's expected to join a conversation on Twitter with its owner, the billionaire Elon Musk.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELON MUSK: We'll be interviewing Ron DeSantis, and he has quite an announcement to make.

MARTIN: Assuming DeSantis goes through with his presidential bid, which he's been teasing for some time, he officially joins several declared Republican candidates, including a certain former president.

INSKEEP: NPR political correspondent Kelsey Snell is following this.

Kelsey, good morning.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Why announce on Twitter?

SNELL: Well, there are some symbolic benefits, and, you know, there's the possibility that he could go viral because he will be already on Twitter.

INSKEEP: OK.

SNELL: You know, on the symbolic side, he is doing this event with Elon Musk. And this will be a live Twitter Spaces event at 6 p.m. Eastern. Musk has said in - that the interview will be live. There'll be live questions. And he's kind of talked about this as an unedited streamed event. And while Musk himself is kind of a controversial figure in the broader public, he is quite popular with Republicans. They - you know, voters in the Republican Party say that they like this kind of bombastic rightward shift at Twitter.

Musk hasn't exactly endorsed DeSantis, but doing this live event on Twitter kind of gives DeSantis the glow of an endorsement without actually hearing those words. You know, it also kind of sticks it to former President Trump, who used Twitter both as a candidate and as president to really drive the national agenda. But Trump hasn't really been using Twitter since he was banned, and he's been using his less popular site, Truth Social. So this is - you know, a lot of benefits for DeSantis here.

INSKEEP: I guess some benefits for Musk as well. It drives some traffic to Twitter, where Musk is trying to pay his enormous debts. But where does the Republican field stand as DeSantis joins?

SNELL: Well, it is getting more crowded. You know, he isn't even the only person to jump into the race this week. We saw Tim Scott, the senator from South Carolina, get into the race. DeSantis is really kind of the one who is most clearly attacking former President Trump, kind of at war with him. And, you know, Trump is really still the front-runner. Some polls have him leading DeSantis by more than 30 points, and he's already spending big money on fighting with DeSantis. Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, is also in the race, and she's probably the other most seriously watched candidate who is actually running. We are still waiting, though, on former Vice President Mike Pence, and we're expecting that he will jump into the race maybe in early June.

INSKEEP: Kelsey, we're talking here about names, different personalities, different backgrounds. But let's bring up, if I can, substance, how you would govern, what you would do with the country if you're president. Are any of the candidates offering any particular specific alternative to the way that Donald Trump ran the country?

SNELL: Well, not exactly, because they don't often talk about Trump directly really at all. We do hear from Nikki Haley and Tim Scott about their religious beliefs. Haley, in particular, has focused a lot on her opposition to abortion. Now, Mike Pence, who, as I said, isn't actually in the race yet, has really focused on, you know, particularly following the Constitution, which is a clear jab at Trump. And he talks about a traditional conservative approach, his principles, these ideas that were common before Trump significantly changed the focus of the party. DeSantis, you know, is different in that he has a very controversial record. He's in a battle with Disney. He's on a six-week abortion ban. So it's a little bit of a - we'll see what happens as they get more into a fight with Trump.

INSKEEP: Kelsey, thanks for your insights. It's always a pleasure talking with you.

SNELL: Thanks so much for having me.

INSKEEP: That's NPR political correspondent Kelsey Snell. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.