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Republicans see dollar signs in opposing Syria

A number of elected Republicans have said they are dead set against the U.S. intervening in Syria--but that hasn't stopped them from filling their campaign war
Mitch McConnell
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 16, 2013.

A number of elected Republicans have said they are dead set against the U.S. intervening in Syria--but that hasn't stopped them from filling their campaign war chests off the debate.

In recent days, GOPers—some  up for re-election—have been eager to tout their anti-war credentials, and are even calling for donations in connection with their opposition to President Obama’s urging of a military intervention following President Bashar al-Assad allegedly unleashing chemical weapons on his own people.

Critics say Republicans are exploiting the Syria issue. They don't want America's military to get involved overseas this time--but they're happy to thump the issue here at home to raise cash.

“It’s disappointing that in the midst of crucial debate about our national security some Republicans are trying to politicize the issue just to fill their campaign coffers,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin told “The American people deserve and expect more from their leaders.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s up for re-election next year, sent a fundraising email just minutes after Obama made a primetime pitch for intervention on Tuesday night. The Kentucky lawmaker hadn’t made his position on Syria known until early that morning.

In the email, McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton insisted McConnell “does not politicize issues out of national security,” but still goes into why McConnell can’t support Obama’s position and “anything that you can contribute will go a long way towards our goal.”

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Karen Handel (the ex-Susan G. Komen executive) released a radio ad in what seems to be the first of the 2014 election cycle to use intervention against Syria as a sticking point. In the one-minute spot Handel rips Democratic Michelle Nunn for backing Senate authorization to strike Syria.

Handel says Obama has “failed to make the case” for intervention and that Nunn, who supports a military strike, would not be able to think independently.

Michigan Senatorial candidate Terri Lynn Land sent out an email asking for contributions. And New York Rep. Michael Grimm--who changed his position from intervention to non-intervention last week—has also sent out an email criticizing the strike and asking for money.

“As your voice in Washington, I will continue to listen and take a stand for you. Will you stand with me in opposing President Obama’s plan with a donation of $25 or more right now?” Grimm asks.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, who’s facing McConnell, called his fundraising email “outrageous and shameful,” adding it’s “politics at its worst.” Nunn’s campaign spokesman Jay Howser told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Handel’s radio ad was an attempt to “turn the debate about Syria into a political issue.”

The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But National Republican Senatorial Committee strategist Brad Dayspring told that Democrats were embroiled in a hypocrisy of their own, pointing to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer who asked for funds on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2005 in response to opposition to Iraq. He also pointed to John Kerry, who used the issue during his presidential campaign.

"Apparently Democrats have no problem fundraising while troops are on the ground fighting a war if a Republican is in the White House, but take issue with candidates who take bold positions and dare point out how badly the Obama Administration has bungled the Syria crisis," said Dayspring. "We look forward to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee critique of Barack Obama, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and countless other Democrats who set a precedent that they now claim to find so abhorrent."