(CNN) – Sen. John McCain, whose endorsement of President Barack Obama's plan to launch military strikes against Syria provided the president a key Republican backer, faced vocal opponents of military action during a town hall in Arizona Thursday.
McCain has long advocated a more muscular American approach toward Syria, calling for a plan to oust President Bashar al-Assad from power. But on Thursday many people who showed up to a town hall in Phoenix said that getting more involved in the civil war would lead to unintended consequences.
"We didn't send you to make war for us. We sent you to stop the war," one man said to applause.
Another man, holding a bag of marshmallows, declared Congress was going soft on its duties to represent voters.
"This is what I think of Congress," he told McCain. "They are a bunch of marshmallows. That's what they are. That's what they've become. Why are you not listening to the people and staying out of Syria? It's not our fight."
Obama has been pressing lawmakers this week to support his plan of limited strikes in Syria that would punish Assad's regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack in August. But some members of Congress – both Democrats and Republicans - are wary of getting involved in another conflict overseas.
One woman at McCain's town hall Thursday, who said she had an eighteen-year-old cousin in Syria, said America hadn't yet exhausted its diplomatic routes for bringing a resolution to the war.
"For me, to listen to you say there is no good option in Syria – I refuse to believe that," she said. "The good option right now is to take Saudi Arabia and Iran and force them to stop supporting the two sides in Syria. And you could do it. You can do it by diplomacy, not bombs, Sen. McCain. We cannot afford to shed more Syrian blood."
Current tallies show passage of Obama's plan for Syria is far from certain, with senators and congressmen from both parties still deciding how to vote on the issue. While Republican and Democratic leaders in the House, and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have voiced support, many others say their constituents back home overwhelming oppose any American involvement in Syria.
Polls this week have shown more Americans oppose military strikes in Syria than support them.
McCain acknowledged the divide at his town hall Thursday.
"All of us, no matter how we stand on this issue – and I know there are very strong feelings, we've already had them expressed – all of us, our hearts go out to those people who have been massacred and killed in this terrible bloodletting that's been going on," he said.