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Ron DeSantis talks tough on terrorism in Orlando speech

in 2017/Top Headlines by

If the race for the Republican nomination for Senate in Florida next year comes down to who’s the toughest on Islamic terrorism, it could come down to a Todd Wilcox vs. Ron DeSantis contest.

Both have extensive and impressive military backgrounds, but DeSantis actually has been elected — twice now, as a Congressman representing the 6th District in East Central Florida.

A member of the very conservative House Freedom Caucus, DeSantis began his speech at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit on Saturday morning by commenting on the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris overnight.

“We are in a conflict, whether we like it or not,” he said. “And the president considers this to be contained. I don’t think that’s consistent with the reality that we see. When you’re in a conflict, the first thing that you have to be able to do is to identify the enemy that you are fighting,” as the crowd applauded.

“Are we fighting man-made disasters? Are we fighting violent extremism? Are we fighting workplace violence? Well, if you go to the White House, they’ll tell you that’s what all these things do in one form or another. I think we have to identify the enemy and call it by it’s name, and the enemy is an ideology rooted in militant Islam.”

The 37-year-old DeSantis served in Iraq as the Legal Advisor to the SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force – West in Fallujah.

DeSantis talked about his experiences working at Guantánamo Bay, where he said the terrorists he dealt with there were completely unapologetic about their actions. “They’re willing to lie, cheat and steal to achieve their ideological aims,” he said, adding that makes them more dangerous than the old Soviet Union, because they were atheists who didn’t have any place to go.

“Mutual Assured Destruction with these people, it’s not a deterrent,” he said. “It may be an inducement.”

DeSantis said that he is working with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton to pass legislation that would deny foreign aid to any country that accepts prisoners from Gitmo who go back to the killing fields.

He also talked about the sacredness of the U.S. Constitution, and about Iran and the incident at Benghazi. And he criticized President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder for not being sensitive enough toward law enforcement,

In addition to Wilcox, Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Congressman David Jolly are in the Senate race.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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