Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will Syria Hurt Democrats in 2014 Elections? Campaign Chief Weighs In

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will Syria Hurt Democrats in 2014 Elections? Campaign Chief Weighs In

Article excerpt

Although public opinion polls show a majority of Americans oppose President Obama's call for military intervention in Syria, the official charged with regaining Democrats' control of the House says the issue will not play a major role in the 2014 elections.

"2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria. 2014 will be a referendum on solutions," says Rep. Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). "2014 will be a referendum on who is willing to get things done and who clung to partisanship and extremism," he said Tuesday at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters.

His remarks came as Syrian state television and the Interfax news agency reported that Syria's leaders had accepted a Russian proposal to turn over their chemical weapons, thus possibly averting a military strike for which Mr. Obama is seeking congressional approval.

"It is just so fluid right now," Representative Israel said. "If the Russia deal is a real deal, I think this evaporates fairly quickly. I can't imagine voters waking up in one year and two months saying, 'I'm going to cast my vote based on Syria.' "

But even if the latest developments do not lead to a diplomatic resolution and the US takes targeted military action, Israel predicted limited impact on the elections. "[I]f the strike is swift, in and out, focused on degrading and deterring the chemical weapons capability, I just don't think that many people are going to be thinking in November of 2014 about the debate on a very limited military operation in 2013," he said.

A number of recent opinion polls show Americans by a significant majority oppose US military action in Syria. For example an Associated Press poll, taken Sept. 6-8, found that 61 percent of Americans want Congress to vote against authorization of US military strikes in Syria. About a quarter of Americans want lawmakers to support such action, with the remainder undecided. …

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