Republicans shift from McCain on war
(The Hill) -- by Jeremy Herb and Carlo Munoz --
Many Republicans are hesitant to align with Sen. John McCain’s aggressive stances on Afghanistan and Syria.
Facing a public that’s become increasingly war weary after a decade of conflict, most Republicans have not backed McCain’s call for action in Syria.
The GOP has been more split on Afghanistan, with GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney supporting McCain’s opposition to President Obama’s withdrawal plans for Afghanistan.
Yet the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said this week he supports the administration’s plans for Afghanistan, and he is hardly alone.
“On this issue, I’m not sure there is necessarily a clear consensus, and I think people are in different places,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the third-ranking Senate Republican.
“There are folks who are war weary. It’s been a long campaign, but obviously there are a lot of us who realize we’ve invested heavily in blood and treasure there.
“It’s a process a lot of our guys are going through in terms of trying to figure out what’s the right way forward,” Thune said.
McCain, the Republican nominee for president in 2008, has been one of President Obama’s harshest critics on foreign policy, blasting his planned drawdown of the surge forces from Afghanistan and for its inaction in Syria.
McCain’s call for action in foreign policy is nothing new, as he was a leading advocate of the surge in Iraq in 2007 and for intervening in Libya last year.
“He’s consistently out front pulling the GOP caucus along, and pushing them into taking more bolder military action,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said of McCain.
In the case of the surge in Iraq, Republicans followed McCain, the party’s standard-bearer in the 2008 election. But they haven’t been as quick to follow him on Libya last year, and on Syria and Afghanistan this year.
This extends to the presidential race, where Newt Gingrich this week questioned whether the mission in Afghanistan was “doable,” and Rick Santorum suggested faster withdrawal should be a possibility.
Eaglen said McCain’s call for staying on the current course in Afghanistan “is an increasingly solitary position in this town, not just among members but also among pundits and movement leaders.”
McCain said in an interview with The Hill that he does not see a rift in his party over Afghanistan and Syria. McCain said he doesn’t try to “twist arms” in his party, but will always articulate his views and do what he thinks is right...MORE...LINK
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