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Scorecard: Where 16 public figures stand on the Syria debate

September 5, 2013 by NCC Staff


The constitutional and political debate over U.S. military actions in Syria has included a wide range of comments from public figures, from President Obama to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Here’s a rundown of quotes from 16 high-profile people.

syria4President Barack Obama

On his way to a G-20 summit, President Obama made it clear that he wants Congress to back a limited strike on Syria.

"The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war," Obama said in Sweden on Wednesday.  "Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the ‘Syria Accountability Act’ that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for."

But he also left open another path, citing his constitutional powers as Commander in Chief.

"As Commander In Chief, I always preserve the right and the responsibility to act on behalf of America's national security," he said.

Harry Reid

On Saturday, the Senate majority leader said limited military action in Syria was “justified and necessary.” He is currently leading efforts in the Senate to pass a resolution endorsing military action.

Mitch McConnell

The Senate minority leader has thanked President Obama for private briefings on Syria, but he hasn’t committed on which way he will vote.

John Boehner

The House speaker supports U.S. action in Syria. "We have enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior."

Nancy Pelosi

The House minority leader agrees with Boehner. “It has been, and remains, a core pillar of our national security ... to prevent, limit, and halt the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons."

John McCain

The Senate hawk wants U.S. military action in Syria,  but wants more details about committed action and plans before he’ll vote Yes in the Senate.

Rand Paul

Paul has said that he doesn’t see “American interests involved on either side of this Syrian war.”

Marco Rubio

The Senator from Florida supports action in Syria but also is critical of the Obama administration for not heeding his calls several years ago.

Chris Christie

The New Jersey governor said he wouldn’t comment directly on Syria. “I’m going to leave that to the people who represent us in Congress,” he told a local newspaper.

Ted Cruz

“The mission proposed by the president is not in furtherance the vital national security interests of the United States,” Cruz said recently.

Hillary Clinton

The former Secretary of States issued a statement through an aide to ABC News. "Secretary Clinton supports the president's effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime's horrific use of chemical weapons," the aide said.

Bill O’Reilly

“Some Americans … are now willing to let evil go unchallenged because there is a never-ending supply of it. But I say that we Americans still have a responsibility to stop mass murder when we can as long as we don’t damage our infrastructure in the process,” O’Reilly said on his Fox News show.

Bill Maher

Maher supports Obama’s decision to involve Congress in the decision, but he’s unsure about the merits of a limited strike on Syria. “You know, I don’t know. To bomb yet another Middle Eastern country, I mean — at some point, these people are going to have to learn to kill themselves. They really are,” the comedian said in an interview with Jay Leno.

Howard Dean

The former Democratic Party chairman and presidential candidate was a prominent objector to U.S. military involvement in Iraq. But Dean told The Hill that he supports President Obama’s efforts. “Thus far I fully support the president, including his going to Congress,” Dean said.

Sarah Palin

On her Facebook page, the former Alaska governor said she wanted Congress involved in the process. “There’s no explanation of what vital American interests are at stake there today amidst yet another centuries-old internal struggle between violent radical Islamists and a murderous dictatorial regime, and we have no business getting involved anywhere without one,” Palin said.

Vladimir Putin

“I do not exclude this, but I would like to draw your attention to one absolutely key aspect: In line with international law, only the U.N. Security Council can sanction the use of force against a sovereign state. Any other pretext or method which might be used to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression,” the Russian leader said in an AP interview.

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