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Arizona voters skewer McCain over Syria

John McCain: Punching bag?
Image: John McCain
U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks with constituents during a town hall meeting at the Burton Barr Central Library on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in...

John McCain: Punching bag?

The Republican Arizona senator, who voted in favor of authorizing the use of force in Syria, pressed his case for U.S. intervention at a town hall in Phoenix on Thursday. But his argument did not go over well with his war-weary constituents.

McCain began by saying “I am unalterably opposed to having a single American boot on the ground in Syria,” but was quickly interrupted by a heckler telling McCain that he wasn’t voted into office to take the country to war.

“What you’re doing is not just disrespectful to me, but you’re disrespectful to others who would like their opinion and their views heard,” the senator shot back.

Several attendees held signs with messages like “Don’t bomb Syria” and “Shame on McCain.”

One man held up a bag of marshmallows and compared it to Congress.

“They are a bunch of marshmallows,” he said. “”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.”

McCain got particularly testy when a man who identified himself as a military vet said Syria doesn’t threaten America’s national interest and that McCain should focus on the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.

McCain, a Vietnam vet who was a prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years, thanked the man for his service, but said “I don’t think I need to be lectured to about veterans, okay?"

Another woman claiming to have a cousin in Syria killed 10 days ago by the opposition said the answer wasn’t more violence. “For me to listen to you say there is no good option in Syria—I refuse to believe that…You can do it by diplomacy and negotiation—not bombs, Sen. McCain. We cannot afford –we cannot afford --to shed more Syrian blood.”

She added, “We cannot afford to turn Syria into another Iraq or Afghanistan. I beg you.”

McCain, who has another town hall on Friday in Prescott, has argued that unless America intervenes, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly turned chemical weapons on his own people, killing more than 1,400—would strike again. In addition, he has said Iran and North Korea could be emboldened by Syria’s actions.

Meanwhile, President Obama has been pushing Congress to authorize the strikes. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday with a 10-7 vote authorizing the use of force in Syria. A full Senate vote is expected next week when Congress returns from summer recess.

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