Last Updated:April 17 @ 10:53 am

American interests not served by strike against Syria, Rand Paul says

By Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)

Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday that his Kentucky constituents are overwhelmingly against a U.S. military attack on Syria, and that he agrees with them.

"At this point, I think it's a bad idea," he said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday night.

Paul said at least 90 percent of the phone calls his office has fielded from Kentuckians are from people opposed to an attack, and during a recent tour of Kentucky cities he said he "didn't meet one citizen" who was in favor.

"There's no sentiment in Kentucky" for military intervention, he said.

Paul, who might have ambitions for a 2016 presidential run, is emerging as a spokesman for the anti-interventionist side of a split within the Republican party that pits more libertarian-leaning legislators against the old guard, which is more likely to favor military action.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, also said Tuesday that he opposes "direct" military intervention in Syria.

"Voting to send troops into harm's way is most solemn vote I can take. The case to take military action has not been made to do that," Barr said in a Twitter post. "It's highly doubtful whether we would achieve any objectives militarily or otherwise that would advance the interests of US."

Congress is expected to debate and vote next week on the president's request for approval of a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is believed to have used sarin gas in an attack on civilians last month. Paul conceded the Senate is likely to approve the measure, though he said he was talking to "like-minded senators" about how to proceed.

He said he hasn't decided whether he might attempt a filibuster on the issue.

"Our best chances for ultimate victory is in the House," where Republicans have a 233-200 majority, Paul said.

Though Obama is seeking approval, administration officials have not ruled out striking Syria regardless of what Congress says.

Paul, who had just attended a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding Syria on Tuesday night, said he did not see that American interests would be served by a strike.

"The region will be more unstable if you get a superpower involved in a civil war," he said.

He said he thinks the action could provoke more chemical attacks and a possible attack on Israel.

"I'm not convinced we can destroy it all," he said of the sarin gas the regime is believed to have.

"I don't see sending my son or anyone else's son to die for what many are saying is a stalemate with no good outcome," he said.

Fence-mending beer still not happening for Paul, Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has other plans the day his sometime adversary, Sen. Rand Paul, is to come to the Garden State to endorse the Republican running for U.S. Senate. Christie is taking wife Mary Pat to Florida for the weekend to celebrate her 50th birthday.

Paul is scheduled to endorse fellow Republican Steve Lonegan at a rally Friday in northern New Jersey. Lonegan is running against Democrat Cory Booker in a special election.

Christie and Paul, both potential 2016 presidential candidates, clashed last month over national security and federal budgets. Christie is considered a moderate, Paul a libertarian.

When Paul suggested the two make up over a beer, Christie said he was too busy running for re-election.

On Tuesday, the governor said the choice between Paul and his wife is "no choice."

McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter David Lightman contributed to this report.

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(c)2013 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

Visit the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) at www.kentucky.com

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