Donald Trump has responded to Ron DeSantis’s ill-fated presidential campaign launch with fake videos of a rocket crashing and a Twitter Space parody with Hitler, the devil and the FBI.
Mr Trump, 76, mocked his Republican rival’s glitch-ridden online chat with Twitter founder Elon Musk by posting a series of doctored clips on his Truth Social and Instagram pages.
The first poked fun at the failed launch of Mr Musk’s SpaceX Starship rocket, which blew up within minutes of its test flight in Texas last month.
Mr Trump’s post featured a rocket with the words ‘Ron 2024’ on it, launching and quickly exploding.
Another clip featured an imagined Twitter Space, similar to the one Mr DeSantis, 44, and the Twitter founder used on Wednesday.
It saw the Florida governor and presidential hopeful becoming increasingly impatient as fellow users interrupted him.
The icon depicting liberal philanthropist George Soros was heard repeatedly coughing and unable to work the technology before the ‘FBI account’ mistakenly said: “So how are we going to take out Trump you guys?”
Mr Musks’s icon then says: “FBI, this is not a private call.”
Hitler and a devil appear and homophobic slurs are heard, before Mr DeSantis shouts: “I’m running for f***ing president okay?”
Mr Trump then cuts across everyone, referring to himself as “the real president”.
He says he will “kick the devil’s a** very soon” and threatens the World Economic Forum’s chairman Klaus Schwab and Mr Soros with “putting both you’re a**es in jail”.
“Ron DeSanctimonious can kiss my big 2024 presidential a**. Trump 2024 baby, let’s go!”, he signs off.
Biden says ‘his link works’
Mr Trump wasn’t the only one to mock the campaign launch.
President Joe Biden’s team posted on Twitter: “Just like my policies, this link works.”
Meanwhile, Trump campaign spokesman Steve Cheung said: “Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate.”
The 26-minute audio repeatedly cut out, with the half a million people logged on unable to make out what Mr DeSantis was saying.
It was described as an “advert for Twitter” by some of his rivals, while his team tried to spin it as “breaking the internet”.
Mr Trump, who is still banned from Twitter, commented on Truth Social: “Wow! The DeSanctus TWITTER launch is a DISASTER! His whole campaign will be a disaster. WATCH!!
“I know Ron. The way he handled his announcement, he will handle the country!”
Analysis: Did launch hint at an incompetent candidate from the off?
Explainer: Five things to know about Ron DeSantis
More videos followed, with a voice asking voters, “why would we ever settle for Trump imposters?” and accusing Mr DeSantis of “attacking the very man who saved his career”.
Fake footage then showed the Florida governor showing a child one of Mr Trump’s signature ‘Make America Great Again!’ placards.
Mr DeSantis is styling himself as a younger and more electable alternative to the former president, who endorsed him for his current job as governor.
He joins former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson – who have all already declared.
Mr Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence is expected to announce his bid soon.
In Florida, Mr DeSantis has passed several so-called anti-woke laws, such as the heavily-criticised “don’t say gay” bill and a ban on abortions after six weeks.