Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who launched his campaign for president in May, told a voter in Iowa this week that he would consider using drone strikes against Mexican drug cartels if he wins the White House.
“Would you be willing to use drones, whatever military it takes, to take out those cartels in Mexico?” a voter asked DeSantis on Thursday.
“Yes, I’ve already said that. We will lean in against the drug cartels. We will absolutely reserve the right – if they’re invading our country and killing our people, we have the right to defend this country. We have the right to hold them accountable. And it’s not just if they happen to come over our border,” DeSantis responded. “If Mexico is not going to help us with that, well then, we’re going to have to do what we have to do.”
NBC News later asked the GOP candidate to clarify whether he’d use drone strikes against Mexican drug cartels.
“I said I would use whatever force we need to defend the country,” DeSantis replied. “We’d be willing to lean in against them, and we reserve the right to defend our country.”
Earlier this year, DeSantis expressed support for the use of “deadly force” against illegal immigrants who are suspected of smuggling drugs.
The Florida governor reiterated that stance on Thursday, saying, “We’re authorizing deadly force. They try to break into our country? They will end up stone-cold dead.”
DeSantis recently explained how he would determine which migrants are trafficking drugs and which aren’t.
“Same way a police officer would know,” DeSantis said. “Same way somebody operating in Iraq would know. You know, these people in Iraq at the time, they all looked the same. You didn’t know who had a bomb strapped to them. So those guys have to make judgments.”