September 5th, 2013
06:02 PM ET
9 years ago

McCain gets an earful from voters on Syria

(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.

Filed under: John McCain • Syria
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. No

    McCain is a disgrace. He should resign in humiliation

    September 5, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  2. PtBarnumBoy

    They may as well be talking to a rock.

    September 5, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  3. ted

    Syria chemical weapons attack is false flag. America is responsible for many of them! Why replace a secular country and side with rebels who are mostly al-Qaeda?

    September 6, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  4. jamesbx

    John McCain gets more money from the aerospace defense sector than any other member of congress. Check out maplight.

    September 6, 2013 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  5. rehabmax

    Nothing good will come of lobbing a few bombs into Syria. It will have no effect other than to result in some poor people dead in "collateral damage" One has to wonder, why now? The first 100,000 dead i guess did not matter. So you bomb out Damascus. What does it accomplish? The US is the only game in town again. When everybody else is heading for the exits, Obama stands alone. OK sheriff. If Asad leaves, another power vacuum results and the Taliban comes in or some other extremist group. It is not fixable with cruise missiles. You would think we would have learned
    that by now. There are only bad choices and bad results in Syria. maybe we will fix fix Syria as good as we fixed Iraq..

    September 6, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  6. Ron

    This is a government "For the people by the people" and they are not listening to the people. Obama backed himself into a corner and he is now going to try to blame Congress for his royal mistake, that is wrong, Obama needs to man-up and take blame for his mistakes. Americans are all saying no war in Syria!

    September 6, 2013 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  7. john

    Sen McCain will get the same results in Prescott. Will he listen to the people, I doubt it. If Senators McCain and Flake vote for the missile strikes, It will be our duty to not re-elect them next go-round or start the process to kick them out of office ASAP.

    September 6, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  8. Tom

    He forgot his iPhone to play video poker during the meeting...

    September 6, 2013 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  9. M.A.P.

    It's been clear for a long time than what voters what is irrelevant to McCain. He thinks he is president, he acts like he is the president and secretary of state and major general of the military and so on! He decides what the people want, not the other way around!

    September 6, 2013 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  10. Marie MD

    He forgot to add the poker cards around the sign. mccain might have paid more attention to it.

    September 6, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  11. Willy Brown

    John McCain, the soreloserman from 2008. Retire John, we don't need to bomb Syria.

    September 6, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |

    McDoofus and the GOBP tea potty have their orders from Israel.

    September 6, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  13. Fuji

    The people we send to represent the people don't.

    September 6, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  14. SpgfldTom

    Is this the same John McCain that played video poker during the Senate Foreign Relation Committee while John Kerry (Hillary Clinton's stunt double) and Chuck Hagel testified (or lied, depending on the readings of your moral compass). McCain is luck the people didn't tar and feather him.

    September 6, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  15. aCriticalEye

    I wrote to all my represenatives and told them I DO NOT support any US involvement in SYRIA, short of humanitarian aide when the dust settles. Go online and find out who your represenatives are and write!

    September 6, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
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