What the potential 2016 presidential candidates are saying about Syria

September 3, 2013

Updated Tuesday 11:13 a.m.

The forthcoming congressional debate over whether the United States should respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria with military force will serve as a critical test for several lawmakers who are mulling presidential campaigns in 2016.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

There is agreement among the top GOP contenders -- Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) -- that Congress should debate whether to authorize U.S. military action in Syria. But they haven't said how they would vote.

Ditto for potential Democratic candidates, with the exception of Vice President Biden, who was with President Obama in the Rose Garden when the president made his surprise announcement Saturday.

Below is a running tally of what potential 2016 presidential candidates have said about the forthcoming congressional debate on Syria.  We'll update this post as more statements come out.

REPUBLICANS

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), on Sunday's "Meet the Press": "I think it's a mistake to get involved in the Syrian civil war," Paul said, signaling he's unlikely to vote for a resolution authorizing military force.  "I think all of the bad things you can imagine are more likely if we get involved in the Syrian civil war."

Regardless, Paul said he was "proud" the president is coming to Congress.

"If Congress votes this down, we should not be involved in the Syrian war. I think it's at least 50-50 whether the House will down involvement in the Syrian war."

He added later: "I think the Senate will rubber stamp what he wants, but I think the House will be a much closer vote."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in a statement issued Saturday: “I agree with the decision to seek congressional approval before taking military action in Syria. And I believe Congress should return to Washington immediately and begin to debate this issue. The United States should only engage militarily when it is pursuing a clear and attainable national security goal. Military action taken simply to send a message or save face does not meet that standard.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), speaking Saturday at a conference in Orlando sponsored by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation: "The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, and I am very, very glad that the president listened to bipartisan calls to come before Congress and come before the American people and make the case."

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in a statement issued Tuesday morning: "The President has some work to do to recover from his grave missteps in Syria. He needs to clearly demonstrate that the use of military force would strengthen America's security. I want to hear his case to Congress and to the American people."

DEMOCRATS

Vice President Biden: Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Obama on Saturday surely signals he's on board with military action.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), in a statement issued Tuesday: "Senator Gillibrand plans to carefully review the classified intelligence, study the final language which was too broad as originally proposed, and query the administration on their strategy and objectives before deciding on her vote."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.): "The president is right to consult with Congress and obtain approval before taking military action in Syria. The decision to allow Congress to debate will give us the ability to carefully consider the evidence and consult with military officials before making a decision. I continue to strongly believe that we should not have American troops on the ground in Syria. I also urge the president to continue to work with our international allies."

 

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