Administration's Fundraising Arm Stays on Sidelines in Syria Debate

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 01:21 PM

By Lisa Barron

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The Obama administration's lobbying arm, Organizing for Action, launched earlier this year to push for the president's second-term agenda, is steering clear of the debate over launching a military strike against Syria.

On a conference call earlier this week, the group's Executive Director Jon Carson told supporters, "What I definitely want you all to know is that OFA supports President Obama and the agenda that Americans voted for on Nov. 6, but we don't always actively organize around every issue. And the debate in Congress over the Syria vote is not one that OFA is planning on organizing around," according to a partial transcript OFA released to NBC News.

Syria is apparently too controversial an issue among Democrats for OFA to weigh in on in any substantial way. "They're going to be trying to galvanize people on healthcare and voter registration and issues that 95 percent of the base and independents agree on," Dick Harpootlian, the former South Carolina Democratic chairman, told Politico.

"I think that is too divisive an issue for OFA. They back his agenda but this is not going to affect healthcare, it's not going to affect voter ID laws, it's not going to affect immigration, it doesn't affect all that," he said.

In addition, legislators are already hearing from their constituents that the vast majority do not want to see American involvement in Syria.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told his colleagues that calls to Democratic congressional offices are unanimously opposed to a Syria strike, according to Politico.

"Every member is going to be sensitive to the calls that are coming in, but they recognize that it's just a certain group of people calling in," one House Democrat who supports taking action told the publication, adding, "People aren't' waking up and calling their congressman and telling him to go to war in Syria."

But OFA's hands-off approach was mocked by the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner; the Ohio Republican has stated his support for the Syria resolution.

"With a big vote on President Obama's Syria policy looming, OFA doing a protest in Speaker Boehner's Congressional district tomorrow on ... his opposition to Obamacare," Michael Steel wrote in an email message to reporters to Thursday, referring to a protest planned for Friday in front of Boehner's district office in West Chester, Ohio.


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