The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

September 4, 2013

War vote on Syria looms for White House hopefuls

(Continued)

Any Republican who supports the use of force resolution essentially will be siding with Obama, who is despised in conservative circles, and a vote in favor could anger more isolationist Republicans who are wary of getting involved in another military conflict after more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The votes could dog Republican candidates with voters in early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Even the most nuanced explanation for a vote could be undermined by events on the ground.

Yet if Republicans with White House ambitions oppose the resolution, they could be accused of giving Syrian President Bashar Assad a pass after his regime used chemical weapons.

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, said a vote in favor of the resolution would be the equivalent of "a purchase of stock over the long-term in Obama's decision-making on Syria."

"Any Republican may go into a vote thinking, 'I have given authority for a limited scope of action to the president,' but the reality is you're buying stock in the president's current decisions on Syria and also his future actions in any escalation that may occur," Schmidt said.

Polls show public opposition to U.S. military intervention in Syria, regardless of whether Syria's government used chemical weapons on its people, and doubts about airstrikes across party lines.

A war vote can make or break a candidate. Just ask Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In the 2008 Democratic primary, Obama used the October 2002 vote for the Iraq war as a cudgel on Clinton, who along with John Edwards voted to give President George W. Bush the broad authority to invade Iraq. Edwards said his vote was a mistake; Clinton stood by her decision — and never recovered with strong anti-war Democratic voters.

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