DCCC Chair: Syria Won’t Matter in 2014

Democratic campaign committee takes no position on Syria strike but sees hypocrisy in Republican opposition.

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is interviewed by Roll Call in his DCCC office. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call) (Newscom TagID: rollcallpix057390) [Photo via Newscom]
Roll Call Photos/Newscom
Alex Roarty
Sept. 10, 2013, 5:34 a.m.

The man charged with lead­ing Demo­crats back to a ma­jor­ity in the House on Tues­day down­played the po­ten­tial polit­ic­al im­pact of the crisis in Syr­ia, say­ing that re­gard­less of what ac­tion takes place, voters will care far more about oth­er is­sues by next Novem­ber.

“It does not com­plic­ated the cycle at all; 2014 is not go­ing to be a ref­er­en­dum on Syr­ia,” said Steve Is­rael, chair­man of the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. “2014 will be a ref­er­en­dum on who can get things done and who clung to par­tis­an­ship and ex­trem­ists.”

Polls have shown deep pub­lic op­pos­i­tion to any mil­it­ary ac­tion in the Middle East­ern coun­try: A United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll found just 21 per­cent en­dorsed launch­ing a “lim­ited mil­it­ary strike, us­ing only air power, to pun­ish the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment for us­ing chem­ic­al weapons.” Fifty-five per­cent said the U.S. should “do noth­ing and stay out of the Syr­i­an civil war.”

Many Demo­crat­ic House mem­bers have voiced skep­ti­cism about the pro­posed mil­it­ary ac­tion. And on the polit­ics, Is­rael, who is per­son­ally sup­port­ive of such ac­tion, em­phas­ized that the DCCC is not en­cour­aging or dis­cour­aging mem­bers from sup­port­ing a vote al­low­ing a mil­it­ary strike.

“The DCCC has ab­so­lutely no opin­ion, no cal­cu­la­tion,” Is­rael said. “We are em­phat­ic­ally neut­ral on this is­sue. Our job is to win elec­tions, not to shape for­eign policy and na­tion­al se­cur­ity.”

House Demo­crats, he ad­ded, won’t back the strike simply to help Obama.

“They love the pres­id­ent, but they love them­selves more,” he said. “So at the end of the day, they’re go­ing to do what makes the most sense for them­selves and their dis­tricts.”

Still, Is­rael couldn’t help but take a swipe at House Re­pub­lic­ans for op­pos­ing Obama’s pro­pos­al, sug­gest­ing their op­pos­i­tion was rooted not in prin­cipled op­pos­i­tion but in par­tis­an­ship.

“Does any­body truly be­lieve that if Mitt Rom­ney had been elec­ted pres­id­ent and asked House Re­pub­lic­ans for ex­actly what Pres­id­ent Obama is ask­ing, that House Re­pub­lic­ans would op­pose it to ex­tent that they’re op­pos­ing what Pres­id­ent Obama wants?” he asked. “The level of hy­po­crisy is what amazes me.”

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