Grimes ducks Syria question; McConnell remains noncommittal

jcheves@herald-leader.comSeptember 4, 2013 

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, ducked questions Wednesday about American military intervention in Syria.

"I'm not campaigning today," Grimes said at God's Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, where she had invited local reporters to take pictures of her packing canned goods for the poor. "This is a secretary of state event."

Later, Grimes' campaign sent out a statement calling the massacre of Syrian civilians "reprehensible" and saying that Grimes is "continuing to monitor the situation closely."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday approved a resolution for a likely American missile attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad in retaliation for his alleged use of chemical weapons two weeks ago, but it prohibited the involvement of U.S. troops. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the measure, arguing that "the president has failed to demonstrate a compelling American national interest in the Syrian civil war."

As the resolution heads to a full Senate vote, all senators — and candidates hoping to challenge an incumbent senator in 2014 — are being asked to comment on whether President Barack Obama should be authorized to attack Syria.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., whose seat Grimes wants, remains noncommittal for the moment.

McConnell and other congressional leaders talked about Syria with Obama at the White House on Tuesday. Afterward, McConnell issued a statement saying he appreciated the briefing.

"While we are learning more about his (Obama's) plans, Congress and our constituents would all benefit from knowing more about what it is he thinks needs to be done — and can be accomplished — in Syria and the region," McConnell said.

McConnell's Republican primary opponent, Matt Bevin, steadfastly opposes an American attack. The United States should reserve a military response for situations in which its own security is threatened, Bevin said.

"Are atrocities happening? Yes, they are. Is it tragic? Yes, it is," Bevin, a Louisville businessman, told CN2 last week. However, he added, "Why would we jump into the middle of something that we have no control over? That we don't intend to influence the outcome of? ... It'd be one thing if it was a declared war. These kinds of police actions we've been doing for decades are wrong, and they're unconstitutional."

Ed Marksberry, an Owensboro contractor, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate, like Grimes. Marksberry said Wednesday that he opposes the United States acting alone against Syria.

"This isn't a test for us, it's a test internationally to see if the world is going to respect the Geneva Convention," Marksberry said. "We can't always be the one to police these events by ourselves."

The McClatchy Washington bureau contributed to this report.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service