Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said Thursday that he is opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria, just hours after his foe in the Virginia governor’s race, businessman Terry McAuliffe, declined to take a position on the thorny topic.
An issue that has divided both parties, Syria had not emerged before in the ongoing rhetorical wars between Cuccinelli (R) and McAuliffe (D), though Virginia’s huge military presence might make the subject even more relevant in the commonwealth than in other states.
Following an appearance at an Arlington early childhood development center Thursday, McAuliffe was asked by a reporter if he had a position on whether Congress should grant President Obama authorization to strike Syria.
“I don’t,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve said that our commander in chief and our military and the Congress should make that decision. I have huge challenges ... in what I’m dealing with and I’m really focused on what we need to do here” in Virginia.
By Thursday afternoon, Cuccinelli had weighed in.
“I understand we’re running for Governor of Virginia, but nevertheless, I find it pretty remarkable that Terry McAuliffe said he didn’t have a position on whether the U.S. should take military action against Syria,” Cuccinelli wrote on his Facebook page. “How is that even possible? I’ve yet to meet one person who doesn’t have strong feelings about this issue.
“As for me, I don’t believe the United States should be intervening in Syria, period. After a decade of war and many Virginia families losing loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am very concerned about putting more of our servicemen and women at risk for an effort that would not — in my view — address the national security interests of America.”
Cuccinelli has posted before on the subject, without taking a clear stance on the question of intervening.
On Aug. 30, Cuccinelli wrote that he was “surprised that the President is hesitating to commit to going to Congress for authorization to use military force in Syria when there’s no immediate threat to the U.S.”
Then on Sept. 1, Cuccinelli posted: “I was encouraged by the President saying he’d go to Congress to make his case for the use of force in Syria. But then what he described as a national security situation was so critical that he’s. . .waiting until Congress comes back from vacation next week!? So, doesn’t that demonstrate that it’s not particularly critical? Oh, and what a nice ‘heads up’ to the Syrian military.”
(Cuccinelli has sometimes shied away from federal issues himself. At an appearance last month at a senior community in Ashburn, Cuccinelli was asked whether he supported the immigration bill backed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is coming to Virginia to campaign for Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli said: “I haven’t read the Senate bill. . . . I’m running for governor, that is a state office.”)
As is the case around the country, Virginia leaders are split on the Syria question. An Associated Press survey of the state’s 11 U.S. House members and two Senators found that six lawmakers were in favor or leaning in favor of intervention, while four were opposed or leaning against, and three were undecided.
Supporters include Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D), Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) . Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) — who has worked with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on their own draft authorization of force — is leaning in favor, while Reps. Frank Wolf (R) and Rob Wittman (R) were leaning against. Sen. Mark Warner (D) has not taken a public position.