U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis isn’t the most well-known face in Tallahassee – the 37-year-old Navy lawyer never served in the statehouse – but the themes he underlined at AP Day in the state Capitol Wednesday morning were familiar indeed.
DeSantis hit the conservative high notes of opposition to the Iran deal, dissatisfaction with the higher education system, and a desire for more state leeway from the federal government.
DeSantis lambasted President Obama’s recent nuclear deal with Iran, questioning its legitimacy.
“It is not the supreme law of the land,” said DeSantis, since “it was never ratified as a treaty nor codified into law as a statute.”
Though most observers say the Iran deal is solidly in place, Congress having failed to pass a resolution against it, conservative skeptics are keeping the flame alive.
“What that means is that for states like Florida – which has been really, really strong on having sanctions in effect, those are still on the books,” adding that “a future president would be free to withdraw from this agreement,” a point DeSantis said Secretary of State John Kerry admitted when the congressman questioned him before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this summer.
DeSantis also outlined proposals to introduce “competing accreditation boards” to increase participation in college outside of traditional “brick and ivy” institutions (like Harvard and Yale, DeSantis’ alma maters) and to ease the path for public projects funding.
“If you look at how the federal government has handled transportation, it’s a total mess,” said DeSantis. “People pay their gas taxes, send it to Washington, and we get less than we pay in. It’s not working for our state.”
DeSantis proposed a plan by which a portion of the transportation trust fund would flow directly to state or local authorities, saying if such a measure were adopted, “you could potentially do a project without all the federal strings attached,” despite the federal origins of those tax proceeds.
Asked about his position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – increasingly a hot-button issue among members of both parties – DeSantis demurred, citing its semi-classified status for now.
That hasn’t stopped Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from coming out against President Obama on the issue of late.