- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - Ohio’s Republican U.S. senator said Thursday that President Barack Obama’s plan for stepped-up action against Islamic State militants in the heart of the Middle East is overdue, and he wants to see the follow-through for an aggressive, long-term effort.

Rob Portman, who is from the Cincinnati area, said he considers the militants a clear threat to the United States, and in some ways more dangerous as a military threat than other terrorist groups because they are functioning more like an army. He said Americans can’t afford to be “naive about it.”

He called Obama’s speech Wednesday night “a step in the right direction. … I think he is now acknowledging the importance of addressing this issue and not simply wishing it away.”

Portman said in a conference call with reporters that he supports more aggressive U.S. air strikes in the region and thinks even more needs to be done to support local ground forces such as the Free Syrian Army. He also said there should be debate of the issue within Congress and among the nation, similar to the national discussion on fighting terrorism in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that occurred 13 years ago Thursday.

“We must be resolute,” said Portman, who is considered a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate. “This will be a long and difficult fight, as President George W. Bush said continually.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, said in a statement he looked forward to hearing more details after the president “outlined the importance of developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy that addresses the threat posed by ISIS.”

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, said Obama made a compelling case for action.

“An effective speech is not the same thing as an effective strategy, however,” Boehner said in a statement. “…Many questions remain about how the president intends to act.”

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Contact the reporter at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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