This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 9, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, in just about an hour, congressional members will get to see the evidence themselves, closed-door briefings that will remove all doubt, what the White House calls irrefutable proof that the Syrian government has in fact used chemical weapons on its own people.
They say they have even got the pictures and the evidence.
To Florida Republican Congressman and Foreign Affairs Committee member Ron DeSantis.
Congressman, do you think the evidence you will be presented, if you haven't already, is enough to warrant a strike on Damascus?
REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA.: Well, thanks for having me, Neil.
I don't, because -- and I have been someone who has accepted the evidence. I think that circumstantial evidence is strong that Assad's regime used gas. The issue, though, that we have to have is, you cannot launch military force without a clear purpose and objective in mind, and you got to have the support of the American people, and in both of those respects, it's lacking.
The public is reacting against this, and the administration has been stepping all over themselves trying to explain what it is they actually want to accomplish. They said, well, we want to use just enough force to not get mocked (ph). We want to take his spoon away and keep his fork.
And not having a clear purpose, I think, is all the more critical, given that we would be operating against the background of an Islamic sectarian proxy war, where you have Iran, Hezbollah supporting Assad's dictatorship against essentially the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda fighters. Either one of those sides wins, and that's a bad thing for the American people.
CAVUTO: Congressman, you mentioned the fact that public support for this isn't really there. In fact, it's really declined rapidly just over the last 10 days.
And I'm wondering, now with north of 63 percent of Americans against this, if that ultimately weighs more on guys like you than whatever so-called irrefutable evidence there is to justify taking action because he has used chemical weapons against his own people?
DESANTIS: Well, I think if you talked to former military commanders, will say when we go to war, we want to make sure that we have strong, durable, public support, and especially in this instance. The administration seems to think they fire some missiles and Assad is just going to stop using gas.
But then what if he uses more gas? Then you have got to escalate. You said you would have no boots on the ground, but what if you end up using a lot of force against Assad, he starts to topple? Do you send people in to secure the chemical weapons? There are so many different contingencies in this situation that if you don't have a base of public support, it's going to be hard to do what would need to be done in those situations.
CAVUTO: So if you had to handicap him now, Congressman, how do you think it looking let's say and in the House?
DESANTIS: I think the House is looking very bad for the president right now, and I think the reason is, on the Republican side, I can say most of our members are very strong on defense. We believe in projecting American power when it's connected to our vital national interests.
But I think a lot of us have concerns with the administration's plan. We don't want to just bungle our way into this. And then on the other side, we have a lot of concern about these Syrian rebels. Who exactly would we be helping if we were to take action on Assad?
And I don't think that we should want to help Assad or help the Muslim Brotherhood. We should probably just be neutral between those two because in either instance it would be a negative outcome for the U.S.
CAVUTO: What do you think of these reports today that the Russians, Vladimir Putin, more to the point, have offered sort of a diplomatic solution, whereby they would stockpile, I suppose under U.S. auspices, the very chemical weapons in question -- I might add, the chemical weapons Putin said only a couple of days ago the Syrians didn't have, be -- that as a way out of this, where the U.N. would sort of supervise, I guess with the Russians, supervising that, all these bad things?
DESANTIS: Well, I just heard the news like you did today.
Don't forget, there's an ongoing sectarian conflict going on there. So the idea that you're just going to put people in, all these sites are going be to secured and everything is going to be hunky-dory, it seems a little suspicious to me, just given the realty that is on the ground.
But Putin is making a play. I think he senses weakness in the administration and he's trying to come forward and gain more credibility on the world stage. So I obviously view Putin as somebody who is trying to confront the United States and who is trying to challenge us.
CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, thank you.
DESANTIS: Any time.
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