DeSantis 2024 Make America Florida campaign artwork.

DeSantis 2024

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Updated Aug 25, 2023 at 01:22PM EDT by Zach.

Added Jul 24, 2023 at 11:17AM EDT by Owen.

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DeSantis 2024 refers to the 2024 United States presidential campaign of Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis' campaign was marked by the slogan "Make America Florida" (in reference to Make America Great Again), however, the slogan was not an official slogan of his campaign. He officially announced his candidacy on X in May 2023 on the app's Spaces feature with Elon Musk. His announcement, as well as other aspects of his campaign like his meme ads, garnered criticism and memes online, predominantly centered on his conservative policies and perceived awkward mannerisms involving his face, his smile and his laugh. During the first Republican primary debate, clips of DeSantis went viral, such as one in which he said, "I will not let you down" and then slowly smiled after.


DeSantis' Face

Prior to DeSantis' Presidential candidacy announcement, he went viral for a clip (on YouTube[1]) on April 24th, 2023, while on a trip to Japan in which he was asked about his polling numbers for the 2024 Republican primary. At the time, he deflected the speculation of his eventual candidacy, saying, "I'm not a candidate."

The video led to many memes and viral posts on X[2][3] about DeSantis' face, using his laughing expression to criticize him, labeling him as awkward based on his physical expressions (example shown below, left).

Along with the aforementioned YouTube[1] clip of DeSantis laughing in Japan, more media of DeSantis laughing and smiling surfaced in May 2023. For instance, a photo was posted by X[6] user @McCormickJohn on May 13th, 2023 (shown below, right), which gained 990 likes in five months.

Oliver Willis @owillis When Mom says you can get the sprinkles on your ice cream GIF : QUA SAN 24

The aforementioned X[6] post also gained over 1.3 million views, predominantly due to viral quotes that made fun of DeSantis' expression as well as variants like Soyjak redraws (examples shown below).


"Mmm Hungwy" Clip

On May 19th, 2023, Ron DeSantis visited the Red Arrow Diner in New Hampshire and a video of his visit was posted to X.[7] The video was similar to many of his other pre-candidacy promo photos and videos.

On July 14th, Bad Lip Reading posted a YouTube[8] video that spoofed the campaign video, editing a part to make him say, "Mmm hungwy," after being served a burger. The video gained over 200,000 views in three days. On July 14th, Twitter[9] user @socialactavis reposted the clip of DeSantis saying "Mmm hungwy," gaining over 240,000 views and 3,600 likes in three days (shown below).

The clip's virality on X led many to believe it was real, eventually resulting in a community note that debunked it. Regardless, many memes and reactions surfaced about the clip, using it in conjunction with memes about DeSantis' face and laugh to label DeSantis as awkward. For instance, X[10] user @tinylittlehomie wrote on July 16th, 2023, "It’s awesome that a one second video is going to tank an entire presidential campaign lol," gaining roughly 28,800 likes in one month.

Presidential Candidacy Announcement

On May 23rd, 2023, NBC News[4] reported that Ron DeSantis would announce his bid for the U.S. presidency the following evening in a conversation with Elon Musk hosted on Twitter Spaces (Twitter's platform for audio conversation). After the discussion, the DeSantis campaign said it would post a video making the announcement. The report stated that despite participating in such a monumental event for DeSantis, Musk has not formally endorsed his candidacy.

On May 24th, 2023, DeSantis and Musk followed through with the announcement, which happened at 5:30 p.m. EST that day. The event led to many calling it a "DeSaster," likening it to a disaster. Much of the criticism centered on Musk, DeSantis and David Sacks struggling with the audio, evident in an X[5] post uploaded by @MeidasTouch on May 24th, which received roughly 12,100 likes in three months (shown below).


Meme Campaign Ads Controversy

The Ron DeSantis Meme Campaign Ads Controversy refers to a July 2023 controversy about Ron DeSantis and two videos that were retweeted by his campaign staffers in mid-2023 that used controversial memetic imagery. The first video was a Sigma Male video that included Patrick Bateman, Thomas Shelby from Peaky Blinders and Gigachad (among other hyper-masculine meme symbols and characters), which many perceived as promoting an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. The second video used the Doomer Wojak but was ultimately dubbed a Nazi video by many due to its inclusion of the Black Sun symbol and flag.

The DeSantis 2024 campaign account on X reposted the videos, purporting that they were fan-made. However, many initially speculated that the DeSantis campaign had them commissioned and then astroturfed them to portray imagined support. Days later, the DeSantis campaign confirmed that a staffer (speech writer Nate Hochman) had made the Nazi video. Hochman was fired by the DeSantis campaign soon after.[11]

Ron DeSantis Homelander Comparisons

On August 19th, 2023, X[18] user @steinhauserNH1 posted a video of DeSantis at a campaign event. It was soon reposted by X[19] user @RonFilipkowski on August 19th, who captioned it, "OMG!!! He’s broken. Crushed. It’s over. Wow. I almost feel sorry for him. Not quite, but almost," gaining roughly 20,600 likes in five days. Then, X[20] user @lib_crusher quoted the video, writing, "Hes got Homelander tics now," in reference to the character from The Boys and memes based on him like Homelander Laughing. The quote gained roughly 77,200 likes in five days (shown below).

Comparisons between DeSantis and Homelander continued to go viral on X[21][22] in August 2023.

"I Will Not Let You Down" / DeSantis' Smile

On August 23rd, 2023, the first Republican primary debate of the 2024 election cycle aired on Fox News. [12] DeSantis was placed centerstage alongside opponents such as Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence and Chris Christie, among others. DeSantis was asked the first question of the night, which centered on Oliver Anthony's song "Rich Men North of Richmond." His answer included the ending, "I will not let you down," which was followed by him smiling.

Clips of the moment were posted to X[13][14] on August 23rd, by users @WOlookingitup and @keithedwards, the latter of which gained roughly 54,600 likes in one day with the caption, "The delay of him trying to smile is insane???" (shown below).

A similar clip which zoomed in on DeSantis' face as he said the phrase was posted by X[15] user @brenonade on August 23rd, captioned, "love smiling like a human." The post received roughly 9,300 likes in one day (shown below) as well as numerous viral quotes[16][17] that furthered the jokes about his smile and appearance.

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