Back home in Florida after White House bid ends, DeSantis is still focused on Washington's problems

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — On the heels of a failed presidential bid, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally weighed in on what he wants state lawmakers to do this year: Change Washington.

Less than two weeks after suspending his presidential campaign and less than halfway through the annual 60-day legislative session, DeSantis held a news conference Monday with cheering supporters to say he wants state lawmakers to seek U.S. constitutional amendments to create term limits for Congress and a balanced federal budget.

But the ideas aren't new and 33 other states would have to join him, the governor acknowledged in front of a sign that read “HOLD WASHINGTON ACCOUNTABLE."

“There's actually been a lot that have done it over the years," DeSantis said of other states. “Florida has already done the term limits, about 10, 12 years ago."

Unlike most years, DeSantis largely avoided giving lawmakers a blueprint for this year's legislative session. His speech to kick it off largely sounded like a list-ditch argument to Iowa voters the week before he came in a distant second to former President Donald Trump in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Now that the House has already passed bills on the proposed U.S. amendments and the Senate is on the verge of doing the same, DeSantis flew to Naples more than 330 miles (531 kilometers) from the Capitol to have his say, too.

He also attacked President Joe Biden on immigration and foreign policy but said nothing to address problems immediately facing Florida and what he'll do about them before he has to leave office in 2027.

Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo said he supports congressional term limits, too, but said he realizes it’s something that’s out of Florida’s control. Pizzo criticized DeSantis for making it and a balanced budget amendment among the first things he's talked publicly about since returning from Iowa, where the governor often spoke of putting on “the full armor of God.”

“He should be focusing on insurance and focused on infrastructure,” Pizzo said. “We should be talking about whether or not you can flush the toilet 10 years from now. I know it’s not sexy, but for a guy who puts on the full armor of God, he should go ahead and focus on some of these things.”

Pizzo has a theory why DeSantis is still sounding like a presidential candidate.

“I don’t think he’s dropped out," Pizzo said. “He’s still running. He’s switching it up, changing it up, but he’s still anticipating that Trump won’t physically be able to serve.”