Rep. Steve Israel: 2014 election will not be a referendum on Syria

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The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Tuesday that it is too early to tell whether his party can take over the House in the 2014 election but that he is confident the issue of Syria will not stand in its way.

Rep. Steve Israel, New York Democrat, said that the ongoing debate on Capitol Hill over whether to support President Obama’s push for a military strike against the Assad regime will not complicate the DCCC’s electoral efforts in the midterm elections next year because polling in swing districts shows that the “Republican brand is toxic.”

“2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria,” Mr. Israel told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “2014 will be a referendum on solutions. 2014 will be a referendum on who is willing to get things done.”

Mr. Israel said his polling shows that more than six in 10 voters in swing districts disapprove of Republicans and consider them obstructionists.

The polling, he said, also found that 55 percent of voters in swing districts support improving the Affordable Care Act compared with 40 percent who support the GOP push to repeal the law.

Mr. Israel said that he likely will support a strike against the Syrian government but that he could support the Russian government’s push to have Syria hand over its chemical weapons to avert a military strike as long as the administration deems the effort “credible.”

“If this is a credible diplomatic alternative, embrace it,” Mr. Israel said. “If it is a subterfuge, stay away from it.”

Mr. Israel credited the Obama administration for persuading the Russian government to try to work out a solution to avoid U.S.-led military action.

Mr. Israel also said that if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had won the 2012 election, more Republicans would be lining up in support of a strike.

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