The head of the House Democratic campaign effort predicted that President Barack Obama’s handling of Syria’s civil war won’t be a drag on his party in the next congressional election despite widespread public opposition to his proposed military strike.
Even if House Democrats provide the overwhelming number of votes to authorize a military strike against Syria, the U.S. response to that country’s civil war won’t be central to voters’ thinking when they go to the polls next year, said Representative Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“If the strike is swift, in and out, focused on degrading the chemical weapons capability” voters won’t “be thinking” next year “about the debate on a very limited military operation in 2013,” Israel told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Polls show a majority of Americans oppose a military strike against Syria and lawmakers who voice concern about authorizing one cite widespread resistance to the idea among their constituents.
Israel, describing himself as “out front as you can get” in support of a limited military strike to eliminate President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical warfare capability, said the issue “evaporates fairly quickly” if Russia’s diplomatic proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control is “the real deal.”
Even if Obama wages an attack on Syria, the 2014 election “is not going to be a referendum on Syria,” he said. “It will be a referendum on solutions, a referendum on who is willing to get things done,” he said.
Republicans have 233 seats to 200 held by Democrats, with two vacancies. Democrats would need a net gain of 18 seats to win the majority, which they lost to Republicans in the 2010 election.
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